2D SNOW MONKEY TOUR: NAGANO TO TAKAYAMA via MATSUMOTO
- Visit the world-famous snow monkeys of Jigokudani and learn all about what makes them so unique
- Explore Zenko-ji, one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan
- Sake tasting and learning experience all led by your guide (non-alcoholic options also available)
- Visit iconic Matsumoto Castle – one of four remaining original castles in Japan
- Be driven through the southern reaches of Japan’s stunning Northern Alps enroute to your final destination – Takayama, renowned for its old town and historic atmosphere
- Including English-speaking guide and lunch on Day 1 with full-service accommodation at Hotel Kokusai 21 in Nagano City, along with all transport from Nagano to Takayama.
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.
Your English-speaking guide will meet you at JR Nagano Station at 09:35 to transport you to the Snow Monkey Park where you will spend time with the world-famous monkeys of Jigokudani. As the only troop of monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs, your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity.
Your visit to the snow monkeys is followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant, where your guide will explain your options and is always happy to discuss Nagano’s renowned food culture.
After lunch, the tour heads to Zenko-ji Temple, one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan. Registered as National Treasure, it is a place of true historic importance and with all the legends and myths of a near 1400-year old complex! 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 restaurants by yourself.
You then met up with your guide and the day concludes with ‘sake’ tasting nearby the temple. Nagano is synonymous with ‘sake’ and no visit to this region is complete without delving into Japan’s most famous beverage. Mastering ‘sake’ takes a lifetime of dedication and start by dipping your toes into this seductive world,’ as your guide explains the process, terminology, and appreciation of Nagano’s renowned and award-winning ‘sake’.
Warmed by the tasting, your guide will drop you 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.
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.
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. You are free to choose your lunch restaurant and enjoy Matsumoto’s historic character before being collected by your driver and starting the journey to the historic town of Takayama.
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.
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!
|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.|
|10:45||Arrive at the Snow Monkey Park area. Prepare and walk along the forest trail (25-30 minutes) into the park. Arrive in the park by 11:15-11:20 and enjoy watching the monkeys in their natural habitat.|
|12:15||Depart the park and get back on the forest trail to your lunch restaurant.|
|13:00||Have lunch at a restaurant nearby the Snow Monkey Park and depart by 14:00 to head toward Zenko-ji Temple|
|15:00||Arrival 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 nearby the temple at 16:30.|
|17:00||End sake tasting and head to 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 taking lunch.|
|13:00||Meet-up with driver at the castle gate 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||Arrive at your accommodation in Takayama.|
- Transportation from Nagano to all listed destinations, ending at Takayama
- Snow Monkey Park entrance fee, lunch, and afternoon activities on Day1
- Accommodation at Hotel Kokusai 21 on Day 1 (inc. breakfast on Day 2)
- Matsumoto Castle entrance fee
- English-speaking guide on Day 1
- Driver on Day 2
- Lunch on Day 2 in Matsumoto
- Accommodation in Takayama
- English-speaking guide on Day 2
- 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.
MEETING PLACEGoogle Map
JR Nagano Station Information Board
Kurita, Nagano-shi, Nagano, 380-0921, Japan
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.
What is the payment procedure after I submit a booking request?
Once your booking request is confirmed on our end, we will send an electric invoice to the email address you’ve submitted in the reservation form. Once you have received the email, please click on the inserted link and complete payment either via credit card or Paypal.
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.
Everyday - All Year Round except Dec 22 to Jan 10
(Day1) 9:35 - (Day2) 16:00
JR Nagano Station Information Board