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2-DAY SNOW MONKEY TOUR: NAGANO TO TAKAYAMA via MATSUMOTO

2-DAY SNOW MONKEY TOUR: NAGANO TO TAKAYAMA via MATSUMOTO

Period

Mon, Tue, Thurs & Fri / All Year Round

Time

(Day1) 9:35 - (Day2) 16:00

Meeting Place

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Price

Adult (13+) 70,000 JPY
Child (6-12) 56,000 JPY

Highlights

  • Explore Zenko-ji – a National Treasure and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan; enjoy a guided ‘sake’ tasting experience and lunch at one of Nagano City’s best restaurants; and visit the world-famous snow monkeys of Jigokudani and learn all about what makes them so unique on Day 1
  • Visit iconic Matsumoto Castle – a National Treasure and one the last remaining original castles in Japan; enjoy lunch at one at Ishii Miso Brewery – one of Nagano’s oldest and most acclaimed miso producers – followed by a quick tour of he brewery itself; and be driven through the southern reaches of Japan’s stunning Northern Alps enroute to your final destination – Takayama, where you can explore the stunning old town on Day 2
  • Including English-speaking guide and  full-service accommodation in Nagano City on Day 1
  • Self-guided itinerary on Day 2, with transport from Nagano to Takayama included.

 

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 some of the region’s most iconic destinations – including the world-famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani, the 1400-year old Zenko-ji Temple, Matsumoto Castle, and the historic old town of Takayama – with the unforgettable experience of being driven through Japan’s Northern Alps, a place of high mountain peaks and rarefied beauty. With English-speaking guide, lunch, and full-service accommodation on Day 1 followed by hotel pick-up and transport to Matsumoto and Takayama, including hotel drop-off, on Day 2,  this tour captures the history and beauty of central Japan with the convenience and comfort of one easy 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!

 

Zenko-ji temple in Nagano cityikko sanzan

 

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.

 

Nakamise street, Nagano

 

It’s then time for an early 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, meals are designed to match the season and complemented with a guided ‘sake’ tasting experience, led by your guide.

 

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 (a non-alcoholic option is 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 – rather dramatically translating to `Hell`s Valley`. 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.

 

snow monkeys in bath snowSnow Monkeys_190217_0435

 

Your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity. Make sure to bring your camera as you`re going to need it!

 

Snow Monkeys_180710_0235Snow Monkeys_180521_0227

 

By visiting the park in the afternoon when visitor numbers are lower, we aim to provide our guests with the best possible experience and more space and time with the monkeys. Your guide will then accompany back along the trail and soon have you heading back toward Nagano where the tour concludes 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 restaurants, buffet breakfast, and English-speaking staff.

 

Hotel kokusai 21, Naganohotel kokusai lobbykokusai 21 superior_twin

 

Day 2

 

Your second day is self-guided and begins with pick-up at Hotel Kokusai 21, from where your driver will transport you to Matsumoto. Set against the backdrop of Japan’s Northern Alps, Matsumoto Castle is one of four original castles remaining in Japan. Constructed more than 400 years ago, the imposing yet beautiful 6-storey structure of white and black walls is commonly referred to as the ‘Crow Castle’ – a registered National Treasure.

 

Matsumotodaio farm_180703_0024matsumoto4

 

The morning is yours to explore the castle grounds and interior – climbing all the way to sixth floor should you want to! – and the surrounding precinct of shops and restaurants. Your driver will then escort you to Ishii Miso, a miso factory where you’ll taste and learn all about the condiment. After lunch you’ll be collected by your driver and start the journey to the historic town of Takayama.

 

takayama7

 

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. At its heart, Japan is a mountainous country and this spectacular region is often missed by visitors using the train lines along the coast. Your driver will stop along the way, allowing you time to stretch your legs and breathe in the mountain air before heading onto your final destination, Takayama.

 

takayama6taka1

 

Famous for the excellent preservation and charm of its Edo period streetscape, the black facades of Takayama’s old town buildings and narrow streets house restaurants, craft shops, sake breweries, and museums that make this town a must-see while in Japan. With drop-off at your accommodation (not included) where the tour concludes, the town is then yours to explore with dinner at one of its many gourmet restaurants and town exploration including morning market, the following day.

 

Takayama is a convenient end point from which to continue to explore Japan with easy access to World Heritage-listed Shirakawa-go (1 hour by bus) or Toyama, Kanazawa and Nagoya (all connected by train and bus), as you continue on toward western destinations such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima or back toward Tokyo.

 

Central Japan is waiting for you to discover it!

ITINERARY

Day1 09:35 Meet up with the guide at Nagano Station. The meeting point is across from the Shinkansen exit/entrance under the Information Board. Our guide will be there by 9:20.
10:00 Arrive at Zenko-ji Temple and explore the precinct with your guide followed by (time permitting) 25-30 minutes of free time followed by sake tasting at a nearby venue and lunch.
11:30 Enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant along with a sake tasting experience led by your guide before departing Nagano around 13:00.
14:00 Arrive nearby the Snow Monkey Park area. Prepare and walk along the forest trail (25-30 minutes) into the park.
14:40 Arrive at the park and enjoy watching the wild macaques bathing in the onsen and going about their lives. Around 15:40 your guide will collect you and have you walk back out along the trail before beginning the journey back to Nagano.
17:30 Estimated arrival time at your accommodation - Hotel Kokusai 21 - where your guide will say their goodbyes and leave you to enjoy your evening in Nagano City.
Day2 8:30 After enjoying a filling breakfast at the hotel, driver will meet-up with you and the tour heads up to Matsumoto Castle.
10:00 Arrival at the castle gardens of Matsumoto. Free time to explore the castle, its surroundings and visit the miso factory where you will savour lunch made out of locally produced miso.
13:00 Meet-up with your driver and make your way to Takayama through the beautiful Northern Alps. Your driver will stop along the way for a break and to allow you to soak in the alpine atmosphere.
15:30-16:00 Arrive at your accommodation in Takayama, depending on the traffic conditions.

NOTES

Included

  • Transportation from Nagano to all listed destinations, ending at Takayama
  • Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
  • Lunch on Day 1 & Day 2
  • Sake tasting
  • Accommodation at Hotel Kokusai 21 on Day 1 (inc. breakfast on Day 2)
  • Matsumoto Castle entrance fee
  • English-speaking guide on Day 1
  • English-speaking driver on Day 2

 

Excluded

  • Dinner on Day 1 & Day 2
  • Accommodation in Takayama
  • Lunch for infant (0-5) – please order directly to the restaurant according to your needs.
  • Shinkansen/Bullet train tickets

 

Other Information

  • Please wear suitable shoes for the walking trail into the Snow Monkey Park
  • Confirmation of your reservation will be sent to your email address within 48 hours after booking.
  • Infants of 0-5 year old are free of charge (please share bed with adult).
  • 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.
  • It is possible to extend your stay at Hotel Kokusai 21. Please send us your preferred length of stay if this is what you’re looking for.
  • 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 should I get on the bullet train to arrive in Nagano on time? 

 

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

 

Departing Tokyo Station – Arriving Nagano Station:

Tokyo: 07:20 – Nagano: 08:43 – Kagayaki (reserved seats only)*

Tokyo: 07:24 – Nagano: 09:14 – Asama

Tokyo: 07:52 – Nagano: 09:30 – Hakutaka

 

*You can still take 07:52 – 09:30 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 to there.

 

Dinner is not included at Hotel Kokusai 21. What options do I have available to me that night?

 

Hotel Kokusai 21 has a number of in-house restaurants serving both Japanese and Western cuisine. Reservations for these restaurants can be made upon your arrival and paid for directly to the hotel. The hotel’s in-house service and central location in Nagano City is one of the reasons we use them for our tours, and should you wish to eat at one of the city’s many restaurants, hotel staff will be happy to assistance you should you need to make a reservation by phone.

 

Do you provide assistance booking accommodation in Takayama?

 

We do not offer assistance booking accommodation in Takayama however there are numerous options in and around the town and your driver will be happy to drop you directly at your chosen accommodation. Please advise us of your chosen accommodation in Takayama prior to the day of the tour.

 

RESERVATION
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