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2-DAY NAGANO TO TAKAYAMA TOUR: SNOW MONKEYS & HIGHLIGHTS OF CENTRAL JAPAN

2-DAY NAGANO TO TAKAYAMA TOUR: SNOW MONKEYS & HIGHLIGHTS OF CENTRAL JAPAN

Period

Sun & Weds / Apr - Nov

Time

(Day 1) 09:35 - (Day 2) 17:45

Meeting Place

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Price

Adult (13+) 55,000 JPY
Child (6-12) 43,350 JPY

Highlights:

 

  • Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and learn all about what makes the resident monkeys so unique
  • Explore Zenko-ji, one of Japan’s oldest and most important Buddhist temples, and home to the first known Buddhist statue to be brought to Japan.
  • Enjoy Nagano’s renowned food culture – with lunch included on Day 1 – and sample some of the region’s acclaimed ‘sake’ with a tasting and learning experience all led by your guide (non-alcoholic options also available)
  • Explore the stunning alpine valley of Kamikochi, renowned for its pristine natural state and walk its trails and discover its highlights including Asuza River, Taisho Pond, and Kappa Bridge.
  • Discover Takayama and its beautiful old town, acclaimed for its beauty and historic preservation
  • Accommodation in Nagano at one of the city’s premier hotels, Hotel Kokusai 21
  • Be transported from Nagano to Takayama across the dramatic Hida Mountains, all led by an English-speaking guide

 

*This tour is limited to groups of 2 people and more.

 

Description:

 

Situated between the popular destinations of Tokyo and Kyoto, the mountainous of region of Nagano is the literal heart of Japan and a road less travelled by many international visitors. This tour combines visits to the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and Zenko-ji – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan – on Day 1, with the alpine oasis of Kamikochi in the spectacular Hida Mountains and ending in the historic old town of Takayama – one of Japan’s most picturesque and best-preserved Edo Period townships – on Day 2. All led by a locally-based, English-speaking guide this immersive 2-day tour captures the essence of Central Japan by combining its most unique and stunning destinations in one convenient package.

 

 

Day 1

 

Your guide will meet you at JR Nagano Station at 09:35 (the guide will be waiting from 09:20 onward) and from there head to Zenko-ji. As a registered National Treasure, the temple is the most important cultural site in Nagano and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in the entire country! A place of true historic importance, full of legends and myths, you will be guided around the temple before (time permitting) your guide will give you the opportunity to explore the surrounding precinct of smaller temples, shops, and food vendors by yourself.

 

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It’s then time for lunch! Depending on the time of year we use different restaurants, each serving cuisine highlighting the best of Nagano’s renowned food culture. From delicious and warming beef, chicken, or vegetarian hot pot in the winter months, to mixed sushi plates and Nagano-style chicken or seasonal grilled vegetables through spring, summer, and autumn, your guide will assure you are well fed and ready to indulge in some ‘sake’*.

 

tour lunch 3

 

Home to a huge number of breweries, Nagano is synonymous with sake and no visit to the region is complete without delving into Japan’s most famous beverage. Dip you toes into this seductive world as your guide explains the process, terminology, and appreciation of Nagano’s acclaimed sake (non-alcoholic options also available).

 

Well-fed and warmed by sake it’s time to head-out of Nagano, as you are transported to the Snow Monkey Park. Your guide will take you along the forest trail which leads to the park and into Jigokudani . Home to the only troop of monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience.

 

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Your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity before the tour returns to Nagano City where the day concludes with drop-off at your accommodation, Hotel Kokusai 21.

 

As one of Nagano City’s most established and international hotels, Hotel Kokusai 21 is conveniently located within easy walking distance of the city’s restaurants and entertainment area, and prides itself on its many in-house services and English-speaking staff.

 

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Day 2

 

After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, your guide will collect you from in the lobby at 8:15 and quickly have you on your way toward Japan’s mountainous heartland and the stunning landscape of the Japanese Alps. Taking approximately 2 hours, you will arrive at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal by 10:45 with a brief stop, before heading into this true mountain oasis. The majority of this drive is through the southern end of Japan’s Northern Alps, a stunning landscape of high mountain peaks rising above the road, rivers, and lakes below.

 

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Situated 1500 meters above sea level deep within the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is famous for its pristine natural state, beautiful rivers and ponds, lush forests, and dramatic mountain peaks rising to over 3000 meters. Your guide will accompany you into Kamikochi and make you familiar with its many walking trails and highlights, before setting a meet-up point and time and setting you free to enjoy the next few hours for yourself. Asuza River, Taisho Pond, and the iconic Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge) are among Kamikochi’s most famous sights are accessible within the available time; and of course, should you prefer to stroll with your guide, they’ll be more than happy to show you these spectacular places.

 

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At approximately 13:45, you’ll meet-up with your guide and board the tour bus for the journey to Takayama. This is one tour in which the journey itself is as much a highlight as the destinations you will visit, and as you pass by the alpine landscape around you and descend toward Takayama, you’ll be witnessing some of Japan’s most stunning scenery and dramatic mountains.

 

Arriving in Takayama by 15:30, you’ll be dropped-off in old town with your guide to explore the historic streets in the late afternoon. Known as ‘Sannomachi’ in Japanese, the distinctive black facades of the Edo Period buildings preserve the historic character of the old town, a glimpse of a world that once existed. The old merchant buildings now house museums, sake breweries, restaurants, traditional craft stores, and are home to local families, giving the town a lively and authentic atmosphere.

 

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Around 17:30 your guide will collect you and have you board the tour bus for the short journey to Takayama Station, where the tour concludes at 17:45.

ITINERARY

Day1 09:35 Meet-up with your guide at JR Nagano Station (the guide will be there from 9:20). The meeting point is across from the Shinkansen exit/entrance under the Information Board.
10:00 Arrive at Zenko-ji Temple and explore the precinct with your guide followed by (time permitting) 25-30 minutes of free time.
11:30 Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant followed by sake tasting. You will depart Nagano around 13:00 and arrive near the monkey park around 14:00, with your guide leading you along the forest trail into the park.
14:40 Arrive at the park and enjoy watching the wild macaques bathing in the onsen and going about their lives. Your guide will collect you around 15:40 to head back along the trail before beginning the journey back to Nagano.
17:30 Tour concludes at your accommodation, Hotel Kokusai 21.
Day2 08:15 Meet up with your guide in the lobby of your hotel and begin your journey toward Kamikochi (the guide will be waiting from 08:10 onward) with an expected arrival time of 10:45
11:15 Arrive in Kamikochi and enjoy exploring the beautiful alpine valley independently or walk with your guide to some of the most popular spots.
13:45 Meetup with your guide and board the tour bus to begin your journey toward Takayama.
15:30 Arrive in the historic old town and explore the area independently or walk with your guide, before meeting-up again around 17:30.
17:45 Tour concludes at Takayama Station.

NOTES

Included

  • Transportation fee from Nagano to Takayama and all between activities/attractions
  • Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
  • Entry to Kamikochi
  • Lunch on Day 1 (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
  • Sake tasting
  • Accommodation on Day 1 (including breakfast on Day 2)
  • English-speaking guide

 

Excluded

  • Dinner on Day 1
  • Lunch on Day 2
  • Accommodation on Day 2 (breakfast on Day 2 is included)
  • Other food, snacks, and drinks
  • Optional entrance fee to the inner sanctuary of Zenko-ji
  • Shinkansen/Bullet train tickets

 

Other Information

  • Please wear suitable shoes and clothing for alpine walking in Kamikochi and the Snow Monkey Park.
  • Kamikochi is located at 1500 meters above sea level and weather can change quickly. Please ensure you have clothing suitable for changing conditions including rain and cooler temperatures (7 to 22℃). The monkey park is located at 850 meters, with similar outdoor clothing suitable for your visit.
  • During the winter it is common to see the Snow Monkeys enjoying the hot spring bath, however from spring up to autumn there will be times where the monkeys play or eat in the water, however please note that the monkeys are wild animals and there is no guarantee that there will be monkeys in the bath.
  • There are a few days in the year that the monkeys might not come down to the park. In such case we will provide an alternative activity.
  • Infants (0-5) are free of charge. An infant lunch is not included and the order will be made directly to the restaurant according to your needs.
  • The tour application deadline is 2 days before the tour date at 17:00.

MEETING PLACE

Google Map

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Kurita, Nagano-shi, Nagano, 380-0921, Japan

FAQ

What time of the bullet train should I ride to arrive in Nagano on time? 

The start of the tour is arranged according to the bullet train (called Hokuriku Shinkansen) timetable. The services listed below will bring you to Nagano in time to join the tour:

 

Departing Tokyo Station – Arriving Nagano Station:

Tokyo: 06:16 – Nagano: 07:38 – Kagayaki (Reservation only)

Tokyo: 06:28 – Nagano: 08:06 – Hakutaka

Tokyo: 06:44 – Nagano: 08:26 – Hakutaka*

 

* You can still take 06:44- 08:26 train since JR Nagano Station isn’t big at all and there is only one Shinkansen ticket exit. The tour meet-up is just after the Shinkansen ticket exit so please come straight up to there.

 

RESERVATION
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