As highlighted in our recent blog article, the monkeys come to the park throughout the year including summer, and they typically come in big numbers. The monkeys – Japanese macaques to be exact – are highly adaptable and found throughout the country including the subtropical south and cold and snow of the north. This troop is fondly known as “snow monkeys” given their ability to not just survive in the cold and snow, but thrive – as demonstrated by their unique habitat of soaking in hot springs.
Understandably, given the name “snow monkeys” many people are under the impression that they are only here in winter, and thus, visitation to the park peaks between December and April. Seeing the monkeys in the snow is an amazing experience, and in winter the park is very busy with visitors from all over the world coming in ever greater numbers.
Outside of winter, visitation (by humans) drops-off dramatically despite the monkeys continuing to come to the park. Each season brings its own reasons to visit and one of the strongest reasons in summer is precisely that tourist numbers are so low!
Visiting the Snow Monkey Park in summer is a great way of escaping the heat of the cities and having the park largely to yourself, with the space to move around freely, sit and observe the monkeys without having to negotiate the crowds of winter. Likewise, the warmth of summer encourages you to take your time and relish the beauty and quiet of the Japanese countryside.
It’s a stark contrast to winter, when daytime temperatures at the park can be as low as -5°C to -10°C. You’ll have all the space and time you need to get the most out of your visit and of course, some great photographs of the monkeys!
Just down from the trail leading to the park, ENZA Cafe is a great place to recharge before or after visiting the monkeys. Popular throughout the year, the cafe becomes exceptionally busy in winter. The lower numbers visiting the Snow Monkey Park in summer equate to lower numbers at the cafe too and you should be able to find a comfortable spot inside or outside on their decking, to enjoy a meal or drink, and take your time. After all, you’re on holiday, why rush!?
ENZA serves both Japanese and Western food with a great range of drinks including craft beers and local apple juice – for which the region is famous! ENZA also carries a fun range of snow monkey merchandise and offers rental bicycles, a great way to enjoy the countryside and turn your summer day into an active but relaxing getaway.
The Snow Monkey Park and ENZA Cafe are readily accessible by both train and bus from JR Nagano Station. Nagano Dentetsu (Nagaden) train line services the monkey park via JR Yudanaka Station. Numerous trains operate each day – including Nagano’s famous Yukemuri-class – along a scenic rail line, a great way to enjoy the surrounding countryside as you make your way to the park. For further information regarding the train timetable please refer to our access page.
Once at Yudanaka Station, you need to jump on a local bus for the quick journey to the monkey park itself.
Nagaden also operates express buses (as pictured below) directly from JR Nagano Station to nearby the snow monkey park. No advance booking is needed. You simply buy a ticket from the driver once on the bus which will drop you at Kanbayashi Onsen, nearby the Snow Monkey Park.
Express buses can be accessed via JR Nagano Station’s East Exit and depart from Bus Stop 23. Furthermore information regarding the bus schedule can be found through our access page.