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3-DAY FROM/TO NAGANO: SNOW MONKEYS & HISTORIC NAKASENDO WALKING TOUR

3-DAY FROM/TO NAGANO: SNOW MONKEYS & HISTORIC NAKASENDO WALKING TOUR

Period

Sun & Weds / Apr - Nov

Time

(Day 1) 09:35 - (Day 3) 19:30

Meeting Place

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Price

Adult (13+) 94,000 JPY
Child (6-12) 69,000 JPY

Highlights:

  • Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and learn all about what makes the resident monkeys so unique
  • 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
  • Hike along the historic ‘Nakasendo Trail’ – the Edo Period trade route which once connected Kyoto to Tokyo – through the beautiful Kiso Valley
  • Explore three of the Nakasendo’s best preserved post towns – Narai, Magome, and Tsumago – each renowned for their historic state of preservation
  • Discover the Japan of your imagination as you retrace the footsteps of merchants, warriors, and pilgrims who once walked the same path
  • Accommodation: this tour includes accommodation at a hotel in Nagano City on Day 1 and at a traditional guesthouse in Magome on Day 2

 

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

 

**This tour can be operated in reverse order – first hiking the Nakasendo Trail on Days 1 and 2 followed by visits to the Snow Monkey Park and Zenko-ji on Day 3 – starting Monday or Thursday from mid-April to late-Nov. If you would like to request a tour in this order, please contact us directly at: snowmonkeyresorts@machinovate.com.

 

Description:

 

Situated in between the popular destinations of Tokyo and Kyoto, the mountainous of region of Nagano is the literal heart of Japan and a road less traveled by many international visitors. Beginning and ending in Nagano, this 3-day tour combines visits to the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and Zenko-ji – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan – on Day 1, before transporting back in time to the historic Nakasendo Trail and the beautifully preserved towns of Narai, Magome and Tsumago on Days 2 and 3. Including accommodation in Magome, lunch on each day, and an English-speaking guide, this immersive 3-day combines some of region’s most popular destinations while taking you off the beaten path and along one of ancient trade roads of Japan, deep into the heart of this fascinating country and culture.

 

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! 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.

 

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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 some ‘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).

 

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It’s then 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 before the tour returns to Nagano City where the day concludes with drop-off 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 English-speaking staff.

 

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Day 2

 

Having enjoyed breakfast at your accommodation, your guide will collect you from the lobby of Hotel Kokusai 21 at 08:20 and quickly have you 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.

 

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The perfect point from which to start your Nakasendo exploration – and a world away from the neon and buzz of the coastal cities – your guide will give you time to explore before taking you for lunch at a nearby restaurant where you can enjoy a traditional meal including the local delicacy, ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles).

 

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At approximately 13:30 it’s time to board the tour bus and follow the beautiful Narai River toward your next stop, Ochiai. Well-filled by lunch, it’s the perfect chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery and relax, as you are whisked toward Ochiai, from where you will enjoy the first walking segment of the tour.

 

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The walk from Ochiai to Magome is a comfortable walk of approximately 1 hour in duration. Leading you initially through a cedar forest and then back into the open and past rice fields and homes, this section of the Nakasendo retains some of the last remaining paving stones and is a road less travelled by visitors – the perfect place to get an appreciation for the original route and start walking!

 

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Arriving at Magome around 16:15 to 16:30, your guide will accompany you to your guesthouse – where your luggage will be waiting – before wishing you good evening to enjoy the town and dinner at your accommodation.

 

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Day 3

 

The final 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 10:00 you’ll start the second days walking, a longer and more energetic 7.6km trail to Tsumago.

 

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This approximate 2.5 to 3 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 15:30 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 19:00.

ITINERARY

Day 1 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.
11:45 Lunch at a nearby restaurant followed by a guided sake tasting, after which it's time to depart Nagano and begin your journey to the Snow Monkey Park.
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 Nagano, where the day's tour concludes with drop-off at Hotel Kokusai 21 at 17:30.
Day2 08:20 You will be collected from the lobby of Hotel Kokusai 21 and be transported toward the Kiso Valley, arriving at the first post town, Narai, around 10:30. Enjoy around 1 hours exploration before having lunch at a local restaurant around 12:00.
13:30 Board the tour bus and drive along the Narai River to Ochiai. Arriving in Ochiai around 15:15, you will walk approximately 1 hour along one of the original parts of the trail toward Magome.
16:30 Your guide will accompany you to your accommodation in Magome, where your luggage will be waiting for you, and your guide will say good evening to leave you to enjoy the historic township.
Day3 09:30 Meetup with your guide and explore Magome before starting the second days walking to Tsumago around 10:00.
12:30 Arrive at Tsumago and enjoy a well-earned lunch at a local restaurant before explore Nakasendo's best preserved post town.
15:30 Meetup with your guide and board the tour bus to begin your journey back toward Nagano (including a stop along the way)
19:00 Arrive at JR Nagano Station where the tour concludes.

NOTES

Included:

  • Transportation fee from/to Nagano, Snow Monkey Park and the Nakasendo Trail and all between activities/attractions
  • Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
  • Lunch on Day 1 to Day 3 (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
  • Sake tasting on Day 1
  • Accommodation on Day 1 (including breakfast) and Day 2 (including dinner and breakfast)
  • English-speaking guide

 

Excluded:

  • Dinner on Day 1 or Day 3
  • Accommodation on Day 3
  • Additional food and snacks
  • Optional entrance fee to the inner sanctuary of Zenko-ji
  • Shinkasen/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. Paving stones on the trail can be slick during the rain. Please ensure that you are wearing good quality walking boots/shoes and if required, carry walking poles.
  • Accommodation on Day 1 is at a full-service hotel in Nagano City with rooms including Western-style bedding and private bathroom.
  • Accommodation on Day 2 is at a traditional guesthouse including futon bedding (on the floor) and shared bathrooms, typical of a traditional Japanese inn.
  • 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

Which train service should I use to arrive in Nagano on time for the tour?

The start of the tour is arranged according to the bullet train (called Hokuriku Shinkansen) timetable. The following shinkansen services, running every day of the week, will get you to Nagano Station in-time to join the tour:

 

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 up to there.

 

RESERVATION
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