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[SEPT 27 ONLY] 1-DAY TOUR: SNOW MONKEYS & LOCAL O-FUNE FESTIVAL IN NAGANO

[SEPT 27 ONLY] 1-DAY TOUR: SNOW MONKEYS & LOCAL O-FUNE FESTIVAL IN NAGANO

Period

Sept 27th

Time

8:30 - 17:30

Meeting Place

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Price

Adult (13+) 20,500 JPY
Child (6-12) 16,000 JPY
Infant (0-5) 5,000 JPY

Highlights

  • Witness one of Nagano’s most unique and boisterous local festivals – the Azumino O-Fune Matsuri – as residents propel highly decorated festival floats toward battle in front of the beautiful Hotaka Shrine!
  • Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and learn all about what makes the resident monkeys so unique
  • Enjoy lunch at a restaurant nearby the monkey park and experience Nagano’s renowned food culture

 

Description

 

Taking place each year in September, the Azumino O-Fune Matsuri or ‘Azumino Boat Festival’ is a spirited and raucous celebration of the rural community’s mythical origins. Said to have been populated by people who came across the sea, the festival sees townsfolk pull decorated boats toward each other, choreographed to collide in front of Hotaka Shrine. Including reserved seating at the festival, along with a visit to Nagano’s world-famous Snow Monkey Park and lunch, this fun one-day tour promises to introduce you to rural Japan in a very local (and somewhat wild) way!

 

The tour begins at JR Nagano Station at 08:30, where your guide will greet you and quickly have you on your way out of Nagano and headed toward the Jigokudani Monkey Park.

 

Snow Monkeys_180614_0236

 

Arriving nearby the park, your guide will lead you along the forest trail which leads you to the ‘Jigokudani Valley’ – rather dramatically translating to ‘Hell’s Valley’. 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.

 

Snow Monkeys_180813_0320Snow Monkeys_181014_0366

 

From there, it’s time to head to lunch at a nearby restaurant. As one of Japan’s largest food producing regions, Nagano’s food culture is renowned and your guide will always be happy to talk all things food as you sit down to an enjoyable autumn lunch around 13:00.

 

Well-filled by lunch you then board the tour bus and make your way toward Azumino. Set against the dramatic background of the Northern Alps, this beautiful rural area is well-known among Japanese and only now coming to the attention of international visitors.

 

azumino

 

It is said that Azumino takes it names from the ‘Azumi’ people, a clan of skilled navigators who travelled from the distant south to settle away from the coast, on fertile plains 500 meters above sea level – with dramatic peaks rising to over 3000 meters above. The voyage is said to have taken place during the 7th century and to this day is celebrated annually in the much-loved ‘Azumino O-Fune Matsuri’ (first 1 minute of below movie).

tradition2ofune

 

Taking place over two days, the highlight of the festival occurs on the second day when local residents pull large and colorfully decorated floats resembling the fabled ships that once sailed from the south, toward a boisterous but well-spirited battle in from of Hotaka Shrine.

 

Arriving around 14:15, your guide will take you around the beautiful shrine before having you in your reserved seat to witness the battle of the boats between 15:00 and 16:00. With one ship considered male and the other female, the collision of the two is symbolic of a wish for fertility and the successful continuation of the Azumino community. Local, loud, and a whole lot of fun, this festival is a great way to experience Japanese culture at its most enjoyable!

 

ofuneofune

 

Once festivities have drawn to a close, your guide will have you back onboard the tour bus and headed back to JR Nagano Station where the tour is scheduled to conclude by 17:30*.

 

*The tour’s end time is an estimate and may be affected by crowd numbers and traffic conditions nearby the festival.

ITINERARY

08:30 Meetup with your guide at JR Nagano Station in front of the Information Board of JR Nagano Station, directly opposite the shinkansen.
09:45 Arrive at the Snow Monkey park area, where you guide will lead you along the forest trail - taking approximately 30 minutes to walk.
10:15 Arrive at the park where you can enjoy observing the monkeys in close proximity.
11:15 Depart the park and walk back out along the forest trail.
12:00 Lunch at a nearby restaurant.
12:45 Depart the restaurant and board the tour bus bound for Azumino.
14:15 Arrive at Hotaka Shrine and be guided to your reserved seating.
15:00 The battle begins as local residents pull the floats toward the shrine and clash with dramatic, symbolic force.
16:00 The battle concludes and board the tour bus to return to Nagano.
17:30 The tour concludes at JR Nagano Station.

NOTES

Included

  • Transportation fee from Nagano to the Snow Monkey Park and Azumino O-Fune Festival
  • Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
  • Reserved seat at the Azumino O-Fune Festival
  • Lunch (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
  • English-speaking guide

 

Excluded

  • Additional food, snacks and drinks
  • Shinkasen/Bullet train tickets

 

Other Information

  • There will be a lot of walking on paved and unpaved roads so please wear suitable shoes.
  • 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 welcome to join the tour free of charge and as such, do not receive lunch. If food is required, please order and pay directly at the restaurant.
  • The tour application deadline is 5 days before the tour 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? What time does the bullet train depart back to Tokyo after the tour?

The start and finish of the tour are arranged according to the bullet train (called Hokuriku Shinkansen) timetable. See below for specific timetables on the bullet train departure and arrival times to/from Nagano Station.

 

Departing Tokyo Station – Arriving Nagano Station


Tokyo: 06:28 – Nagano: 08:06 – Hakutaka
Tokyo: 06:52 – Nagano: 08:40 – Asama
Tokyo: 07:20 – Nagano: 08:43 – Kagayaki (reserved seats only)*

 

*You can still take 07:20 – 08:43 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.

 

Departing Nagano Station – Arriving Tokyo Station


Nagano: 19:08 – Tokyo: 20:52  – Asama
Nagano: 19:38 – Tokyo: 21:16  – Hakutaka