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4-DAY NAGANO TO TOKYO: SNOW MONKEYS, NAKASENDO & MT FUJI

4-DAY NAGANO TO TOKYO: SNOW MONKEYS, NAKASENDO & MT FUJI

Period

Every Mon. / Mid-Apr - Late-Nov

Time

(Day 1) 08:30 - (Day 4) 19:00

Meeting Place

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Price

Adult (13+) 139,500 JPY
Child (6-12) 112,500 JPY

Highlights:

  • Days 1-2: Hike along the historic ‘Nakasendo Trail’ – the Edo Period trade route which once connected Kyoto to Tokyo – through the beautiful Kiso Valley and explore three of the Nakasendo’s best preserved post towns – Narai, Magome, and Tsumago – includign accommodationat a traditional inn in Magome, including dinner and breakfast service.
  • Day 3: Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and learn all about what makes the resident monkeys so unique and 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.
  • Day 4: Experience the majesty of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s tallest and most iconic mountain, on a route designed to give you the most protracted, beautiful views of the stunning volcano including Arakurayama Sengen Park; tour the Suntory Hakushu Distillery and sample their acclaimed whiskies, produced using the pristine waters of Japan’s Southern Alps; and explore the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, home to one of Japan’s most beautiful kimono collections and blessed with a spectacular view of Mt Fuji.

 

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

 

Description:

 

Nagano and the mountainous region of Central Japan are in many ways the literal heart of this fascinating country and culture. Starting from Nagano City and ending in Tokyo, this exciting 4-day tour takes in many of the region’s most iconic destinations and unique experiences including hiking the historic Nakasendo Trail via the old post towns of Narai, Magome, and Tsumago (Days 1-2), the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and Zenko-ji Temple (Day 3), before the tour heads south toward Tokyo via Japan’s most iconic sight, the majestic Mt Fuji (Day 4). Including visits to the Suntory Hakushu Distillery and Itchiku Kubota Museum, this tour captures the essence of Central Japan and the beauty of the culture it has inspired.

 

Day 1

 

Your English-speaking guide will meet you at JR Nagano Station at 08:30 (the guide will be waiting from 08:20 onward) and have you quickly onboard the tour bus to begin your journey toward the beautiful Kiso Valley and your first stop on the Nakasendo Trail, the historic post town of Narai.

 

Known as ‘Narai Senken’ or ‘Narai of a Thousand Houses’, this beautifully preserved town marked the midpoint of Nakasendo – the thirty-fourth of sixty-nine stations which monitored, controlled, and taxed traffic along the road. Today the remaining historic town runs approximately 1km in length and is 200 meters wide, home to numerous shops, restaurants, traditional accommodation and peoples’ homes. Your guide will give you time to explore before taking you for lunch at a nearby restaurant, then at approximately 13:00 it’s time to start walking.

 

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The first day’s walk takes you from Narai through a forested hinterland and onto the quaint mountain town of Yabuhara. Your guide will make sure you’re well prepared for the walk and ensure you move at a comfortable pace with plenty of time to discuss and enjoy interesting points along the way. Taking most people 1.5 hours to walk, this section of the trail includes some steeper climbs making it one of the least travelled sections of the trail.

 

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You’ll soon be descending into Yabuhara where your guide will give you time for a well-deserved rest and chance to enjoy this pleasant little town. Boarding the tour bus you’ll then be transported directly to the next postal town, Magome.

 

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Arriving around 17:30, your guide will accompany to your accommodation before wishing you good evening. The night is yours to relax and unwind at the guesthouse including their in-house dinner service.

 

Day 2

 

The second day begins with breakfast at your guesthouse before meeting-up with your guide around 9:30. You’ll have time to explore the town which has been extensively restored including a broad stone walkway lined by museums, traditional stores, and restaurants interspersed with regular homes. Around 10:30 you’ll start the second days walking, a longer but more gentle 8.4km trail to Tsumago.

 

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This approximate 2.5 hour walk takes you through an undulating landscape of rice paddies, farm fields, streams, forests and even some waterfalls. Your guide will lead you at a comfortable pace including a longer break around the halfway point to rest your feet and soak in your surroundings. This section of the Nakasendo Trail is particularly well-preserved and walking the same path as those hundreds of years before, gives you a unique appreciation of the journeys and lives of the Japan of old.

 

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As the forest thins and the landscape opens up, you will arrive in Tsumago – the 42nd post town and your final destination. Your guide will first take you for a well-deserved lunch followed by time to explore perhaps the best preserved and enchanting of the post towns for yourself.

 

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At 16:00 you’ll meetup with your guide and board the tour bus to begin the journey back to Nagano. Stopping along the way to break-up the journey, you’ll be transported directly to JR Nagano Station, where the tour is scheduled to conclude by 19:30.

 

Day 3

 

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! You will be guided around the temple before (time permitting) you’ll have the opportunity to explore the surrounding precinct of smaller temples and shops by yourself.

 

Zenko-ji temple in Nagano city

 

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 followed by a guided ‘sake’ tasting. 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).

 

From Nagano you head to the Snow Monkey Park where 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. 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 JR Nagano Station and concludes at approximately 17:30.

 

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Day 4

 

Starting at JR Nagano Station at 8:30 (the guide will be there from 8:20), the final day begins by heading south will quickly have you onboard the tour bus and on your way. Central Japan is known for its many mountain ranges, and as you head south you will see peaks rising either side of the valley, building anticipation for your ultimate destination, Mt Fuji.

 

At approximately 10:45 you will arrive at the Suntory Hakushu Distillery, located in the picturesque Hakushu. Japan is now well-established as one of the world’s premier whisky producers, with the Hakushu Distillery among the best. You are free to tour the distillery and on-site museum – with English audio included in the tour* – followed by a tasting. For guests less interested in whiskey, Hakushu has been chosen for its beautiful location and surrounding walking trails. Known for an abundance of birds and other wildlife, these easy paths are ideal to wander through and really soak in the pristine atmosphere of the region, before joining your guide and other guests for lunch – a seasonal Japanese menu – at the on-site restaurant.

 

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It’s then time to continue your journey toward Fuji and soon you’ll have you’ll have your first view of stunning mountain. While the classic appearance of the volcano is known throughout the world, its size and unquestionable beauty takes visitors by surprise, an effect which only grows stronger as draw nearer.

 

Around 14:00 the tour will arrive at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum. Established in 1994, the museum was positioned to afford visitors a spectacular view of Mt Fuji and houses the permanent collection of dyeing artist Itchiku Kubota – including his Fuji-inspired series, ‘Symphony of Light’ – and one of Japan’s most stunning kimono collections.

 

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From the museum, it’s a short journey to your final stop, Arakurayama Sengen Park. Arriving around 15:45, the park is regarded as one of the most advantageous spots to view Mt Fuji and home to Arakura Fuji-Sengen Shrine and pagoda. Positioned halfway up Mt Arakura, this is the perfect location from which to breathe in the beauty of Fuji and a panoramic view of the fabled mountain.

 

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Boarding the tour bus around 17:00, it’s time to relax as you are transported on the final leg of your journey to Tokyo, where the tour concludes at JR Shinjuku Station at 19:00.

 

*Use of Suntory Hakushu’s English audio guide requires each guest to have a smart phone with which to connect it.

ITINERARY

Day1 08:30 Meetup with your guide at JR Nagano Station (the guide will be waiting from 08:20) and be transported toward the Kiso Valley, arriving at Narai around 10:30. Enjoy 1.5 hours exploration before having lunch at a local restaurant around 12:00 and starting your hike to Yabuhara around 13:00.
15:00 Arrive at Yabuhara and enjoy a well-earned rest before boarding the tour bus and heading to Magome, with an expected arrival/check-in at your accommodaiton around 17:30.
Day2 09:30 Meetup with your guide and explore Magome before starting the second days walking to Tsumago at 10:30 with an expected arrival time of 13:30. Enjoy lunch and explore the town before boarding the tour bus and returningt to JR Nagano Station, where the day ends around 19:30.
Day 3 09:35 Meetup with your guide (the guide will be there from 09:20 onward) and head to Zenko-ji. You will be guided around the precinct before having time to explore for yourself. Meeting-up with your guide again you head to lunch followed by sake tasting, and depart Nagano around 13:00.
14:00 Arrive nearby the Snow Monkey Park from where your guide will lead you along the trail into the park, with an expected arrival time of 14:40. Enjoy observing the monkeys in close proximity before departing the park around 15:40 to begin your journey back to JR Nagano Station, where the day ends around 17:30.
Day 4 08:30 Meet up with your guide at JR Nagano Station and begin your journey south toward Mt Fuji (the guide will be waiting from 08:20 onward).
11:00 Arrive at the Suntory Hakushu Distillery and enjoy a tour (including whisky sampling) or free-time followed by lunch at 12:15 and expected departure time of 13:00.
14:30 Arrive at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum and explore the collections or beautiful museum settings, including view of Fuji before departing around 16:00.
16:20 Arrive at the Arakurayama Sengen Park and enjoy freetime to take in one of the most renowned panoramic views of Fuji, along with the shrine and pagoda.
17:30 Depart the park and begin the final journey toward Tokyo, where the tour is expected to conclude at JR Shinjuku Station at 19:30.

NOTES

Included:

  • Transportation fee from/to Nagano, Snow Monkey Park, the Nakasendo Trail and Tokyo, and all between activities/attractions
  • Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
  • Sake Tasting on Day 1
  • Suntory Hakushu Distillery Tour on Day 4
  • Entry to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum on Day 4
  • Lunch on Day 1-4 (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
  • Accommodation on Day 1 (including dinner and breakfast)
  • English-speaking guide

 

Excluded:

  • Accommodation on Days 2-4
  • Additional food and snacks
  • Optional entrance fee to the inner sanctuary of Zenko-ji
  • Bullet train tickets

 

Other Information:

  • 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.
  • Please wear suitable shoes/boots and clothing for hiking through varying terrain. The trail is well-maintained and paved in some areas with other sections being more challenging. The trail is undulating with some steeper climbs however it is suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness.
  • Please be prepared for changing weather conditions including rain (anytime of year but especially in June and July) and hot, humid condition from late-June until September. Kiso Valley is a mountainous region therefore weather can change quickly.
  • Accommodation is at a traditional guesthouse including futon bedding (on the floor) and shared bathrooms, typical of a traditional Japanese inn.
  • Views of Mt. Fuji can be affected by weather and there are days of low visibility. This is outside of our control and weather on the mountain can change quickly, therefore tours will proceed even if weather/visibility is forecast to be poor.
  • This tour does not actually take guests on to Mt. Fuji. This is intentional and caters to guests who wish to view and photograph the mountain rather than climb it.
  • 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.

 

Does the tour include accommodation?

This tour includes accommodation in Magome on Day 2. On all other days – Day 1, 2 and 4 – guests have the flexibility of selecting their own accommodation based on their specific needs. Nagano and Tokyo are popular destinations with numerous accommodation options.

RESERVATION
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