FROM NOZAWA: HOW TO GET TO THE SNOW MONKEY PARK
Located at the northern tip of Nagano Prefecture, Nozawa Onsen is a quaint mountain village famous for its natural springs and powder snow. The combination of the two attracts visitors who want the indulgence of days on the mountain carving through deep powder before soaking themselves in the bubbling hot springs that populate the town at night. The village itself retains a lot of its rural Japanese charm while providing a lively and fun atmosphere through the winter months.
Like other mountain resorts around Nagano, Nozawa is also quickly becoming known for the range of activities guests can pursue in the warmer months of spring, summer, and autumn. Nozawa is a paradise for trail-runners who relish the opportunity to test themselves running the forest trails and mountain terrain that criss-cross the mountain. While much quieter outside of winter, there is never a bad time to visit Nozawa as new activities pop-up on a regular basis and its reputation as a green season destination continues to grow.
Visiting the Snow Monkey Park from Nozawa
- Public bus (most convenient in winter)
For those staying in Nozawa in the winter months – December to March – the Snow Monkey Park is accessible by public buses running from both Nozawa itself or nearby JR Iiyama Station. The journey from Nozawa takes approximately 65 minutes and costs JPY1600, or from Iiyama, 35 to 40 minutes and costs JPY1000. No reservation is required with tickets purchased directly from the driver on the bus. It should be noted that the frequency of bus services between Nozawa or Iiyama and the Snow Monkey Park varies greatly between seasons, with far fewer buses running in the spring, summer, and autumn months.
- Train and/or bus via JR Nagano Station (most convenient outside of winter)
Outside of winter – between April through to the end of November – only one bus operates from JR Iiyama Station to the Snow Monkey Park each day. For that reason, most visitors will use the train to access the monkey park. From Nozawa, you must make the short trip to JR Iiyama Station by bus or taxi and then have the choice of taking a local train – approximately 50 minutes and JPY530 – or shinkansen – approximately 10 minutes and JPY1360 – to JR Nagano Station.
Once at Nagano, you have two choices to reach the Snow Monkey Park – train/local bus or express bus.
2a. To access the train, exit Nagano Station via the Zenkoji Exit and head underground to the Nagano Dentetsu (Nagaden) train line. You need to head to JR Yudanaka Station (the final stop on the line), which is serviced by both local – 60 to 70 minutes and JPY1160 – and express trains – approximately 50 minutes and JPY1260. The schedule can be found here. Once at Yudanaka, it is only a 10 minute bus ride to Kanbayashi Onsen, just down the hill from the Snow Monkey park entrance. These buses depart the station regularly and station staff can assist you boarding the correct bus.
2b. Nagaden also operates express buses that run directly from JR Nagano Station to Kanbayashi Onsen – approximately 55 minutes and JPY 1400 each way. Buses can be accessed via the station’s East Exit and operate from Stop 23 (to your left as you descend the stairs). The bus schedule varies significantly between seasons and can be viewed through our access information.
Book a Private Snow Monkey Tour from Nozawa
While Nozawa and the Snow Monkey Park are physically located nearby to each other, the above directions reflect the fact that negotiating your way from one to the other by public outside of winter is time-consuming and can be confusing at first. For those wanting to take the stress and hassle out of their trip and turn their visit to the park into a more informative and fun experience with the insight and knowledge of a guide, private tours from Nozawa Onsen can be customized to your need including pick-up and drop-off directly at your accommodation. Private tours are designed to meet the needs and interests of guest, typically combining a visit to the monkey park with lunch at a nearby restaurant, and a cultural exploration of other famous local destinations led by an English-speaking guide.