Situated in Nagano, Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is one of the popular destination for tourists when in Japan and the good news is that it is easily accessible as a day trip from Tokyo.
How to get there
1) From Tokyo Station, take Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano. Choose Kagayaki, as it is the fastest train category for Hokuriku Shinkansen. Total time taken is approximately 1.5 hours and the fare costs ¥8,000 per person (one way) for reserved seats. You can find more information on a suitable route via Hyperdia.
Tickets can be purchased at JR Ticketing Offices and at any Travel Service Centers. Credit cards are accepted.
2) At Nagano Station, purchase the Snow Monkey Day Pass at ¥2,900, which will include Nagano Train, Nagano Bus and Snow Monkey Park Admission Ticket. There is a shop on the left after you exit the gantry where you can purchase the pass.
3) There are two options to reach the park: by train or bus
– If you decide to take the train, board the train to Yudanaka Station, followed by bus outside the train station to Kanbayashi Onsen. Once you alight at Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop, walk uphill for 5 minutes and you will be at the start of the walking trail to Snow Monkey park.
If you prefer to have lesser transit points and avoid huge crowds, taking the bus outside Nagano Station will be a better option.
– Take Nagano Dentesu Bus (Nagaden) towards Shiga Kogen and alight at Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi bus stop, which is near a gas station. From the gas station, walk downhill and turn right, after a small parking lot and continue the road until a junction. Make a right turn and continue the road to the start of the walking trail. You will pass by a café on the right, which will be a perfect stopover before / after visiting the park for a quick meal and rest.
At the entrance of the park, you will see a gift shop on the left and a big signboard before an uphill staircase. Do not get discouraged and decide to turn back as the uphill is only a short distance. After which it will be an even and gradual trail for the next 30 min.
To spot the snow monkey is like striking a lottery. To maximize your chance before travelling, do remember to monitor the web cam and weather forecast frequently.
We have chosen a perfect day to visit the park. Snow started to fall from the sky when we were at the ticketing entrance and lots of snow monkeys started to rush down from the forest to avoid the chilling weather.