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2-DAY TOKYO TO NAGANO TOUR: SNOW MONKEYS & CENTRAL JAPAN

2-DAY TOKYO TO NAGANO TOUR: SNOW MONKEYS & CENTRAL JAPAN

Period

Tues & Fri / Apr - Nov

Time

(Day 1) 8:30 - (Day 2) 17:30

Meeting Place

JR Shinjuku Station

Price

Adult (13+) 61,000 JPY
Child (6-12) 48,350 JPY

Highlights

  • Day 1: Step back in time and explore the Edo Period town of Kawagoe, renowned for its preservation of historic warehouses and merchant buildings; enjoy lunch in the mountain town of Karuizawa and stroll the scenic enclave of Harunire Terrace; and visit Mt Asama – Honshu’s most active volcano – and wander through dramatic Onioshidashi Park, a vast stone garden created during the volcano’s last major eruption
  • Day 2: Explore Zenko-ji Temple, Nagano’s near-1400 year old spiritual heart and registered National Treasure; enjoy lunch at one of Nagano’s favorite restaurants – Monzen Terrace Enya – including sake tasting; and visit the world-famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani – the only troop of monkeys in the entire world known to bathe in hot springs
  • Accommodation: this tour includes accommodation at Hotel Kokusai 21 in Nagano City on Day 1 (with option of also including accommodation on Day 2)

 

Description

 

Starting from Tokyo, this immersive 2-day tour takes you away from the frenzy of the big city and into the mountainous, rural heart of Japan – with visits to the historic Edo Period town of Kawagoe and the popular mountain resort town of Karuizawa before reaching Honshu’s most active volcano Mt Asama on Day 1, followed by a guided exploration of Zenko-ji – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan – and visit to Nagano’s world-famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani on Day 2. Including English-speaking guide, lunch on both days, and accommodation in Nagano City on Day 1, this tour is great way to escape the city and discover the true heart of Japan – a mountainous and wild place!

 

Day 1

 

Beginning with pickup from JR Shinjuku Station at 08:30, your English-speaking guide will have you board the tour bus and begin your journey toward Nagano. First stop is Kawagoe, a small pocket of Saitama renowned for its preservation of numerous Edo Period (1603-1867) buildings. As an important trading and strategic town during that time, Kawagoe was replete with merchant buildings and wealth, a character still reflected in the conservation of more than 200 ‘kurazukuri’, traditional warehouses now converted to use as shops, restaurants, and small museums.

 

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Arriving at Kawagoe approximately 10:00, your guide will arrange a meeting time and place and then set you free to explore for yourself, before meeting-up to continue your journey north and into the mountains of Central Japan.

 

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Next stop is the scenic mountain town of Karuizawa. Arriving around 13:00, you’ll head straight to Harunire Terrace for lunch. Located around 1000 meters above sea level, Harunire offers a touch of Tokyo – beautifully designed restaurants, cafes and shops – nestled within the lush, cool mountains of Karuizawa.

 

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Surrounded by elm trees and with a mountain river running alongside the terrace, it’s the perfect place to stop, breathe in the mountain atmosphere, and enjoy lunch before exploring the area for yourself. You will have up to an hour to explore the area which includes several pleasant trails, the famous Stone Church of Karuizawa and Tombo-no-yu hot spring all within easy walking distance.

 

Meeting-up with your guide around 15:00 it’s time to keep moving, with a short onward journey to nearby Mt Asama – one of Japan’s most active volcanoes. At 2568 meters, this dramatic mountain is actually three volcanoes sitting atop of each other and one of the few mountains in Japan which is forbidden to climb, with its regular activity and particularly treacherous weather posing too serious a threat to would-be climbers.

 

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Arriving at 15:30 the tour includes entry to Onioshidashi Park, a remarkable natural rock garden decorated with huge black lava boulders which were ejected from the volcano during its last major eruption in 1873. While Asama has had many small episodes since then, no event has been so cataclysmic as that eruption which claimed an estimated 1500 lives.

 

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Today we are left with an immense rock garden which dwarfs you as your stroll between the boulders toward Asamayama-Kan’nondo Temple, built in dedication to those who lost their lives in the eruption of 1873. Home to many unique alpine plants, the park is particularly beautiful from May to October, with the immense volcano above being an ever-present reminder of the unimaginable forces at work beneath our feet.

 

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At 17:00 your guide will collect you, have you board the tour bus and begin your journey toward Nagano City where the tour is scheduled to end at 19:00 with drop-off at your accommodation – Hotel Kokusai 21.

 

Accommodation

 

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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You will be dropped at the hotel at the end of Day 1 and collected from the lobby on the morning of Day 2. Including buffet breakfast on Day 2 and Western-style bedding and amenities in all rooms, Hotel Kokusai 21 is the perfectly positioned to give you the most comfortable stay while in Nagano and from where to explore the city at night!

 

* A second night’s accommodation at Hotel Kokusai 21 – following the conclusion of your tour on Day 2 – can be requested by selecting the relevant option on the booking menu.

 

Day 2

 

Having enjoyed breakfast at your hotel, your guide will meet you in the lobby at 9:10 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 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 to autumn, your guide will assure you are well fed and ready to indulge in ‘sake’.

 

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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 entire 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. Your guide will then accompany back along the trail and soon have you heading back toward Nagano, the perfect time to sit back, relax, and look through all those monkey photos before the tour returns to JR Nagano Station and concludes at approximately 17:30.

 

*Please note that all listed times are estimates of the expected itinerary and can be affected by weather and traffic conditions and peak busy periods.

ITINERARY

Day1 08:30 Meetup with your guide at JR Shinjuku Station and board the tour bus to begin your journey toward Nagano.
10:00 Arrive at Kawagoe and enjoy exploring the Edo Period town before boarding the tour bus again around 11:30.
13:00 Arrive in Karuizawa and enjoy lunch before being given time to explore for yourself.
15:30 Arrive at Mt Asama and wander through Onioshidashi Park before departing around 17:00.
19:00 Drop-off at your accommodation where the day's tour concludes.
Day2 09:10 Following breakfast, meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel and head toward Zenko-ji, where you will be guided around the precinct 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 with drop-off at your accommodation, Hotel Kokusai 21 or JR Nagano Station (depending on your preference).

NOTES

Included

  • Transportation fee from Tokyo to Nagano and all between activities/attractions
  • Onioshidashi Park park entry fee
  • Accommdation on Day 1 (including breakfast on Day 2)
  • Snow Monkey Park entry free
  • Lunch on Day 1 and Day 2
  • English-speaking guide

 

Excluded

  • Bullet train tickets
  • Dinner on Day 1
  • Entry to restricted/paid areas of Zenko-ji Temple
  • Accommdation on Day 2 (unless otherwise requested)

 

Other Information

  • Mt Asama can be subject to poor weather at all times of year and cold temperatures including heavy snowfall during winter. Should weather conditions not be suitable, we may switch to a different destination Day 1. Should this change be necessary we will advise you as soon as possible.

MEETING PLACE

Google Map

JR Shinjuku Station

To be confirmed at time of booking

FAQ

Which train service should I use to depart Nagano to Tokyo after the tour concludes on Day 2?

 

The start and end of the tour are arranged according to the bullet train (called Hokuriku Shinkansen) timetable. The following departures (or later) from Nagano to Tokyo can be used following the tour’s conclusion:

 

Departing Nagano Station – Arriving Tokyo Station:

 

Nagano: 17:55 – Tokyo: 19:20 – Kagayaki (reserved seats only)

Nagano: 18:22 – Tokyo: 20:00 – Hakutaka

RESERVATION
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