New Year is only a few months away and we have had a few questions about the Snow Monkey Park during New Years. Fret not: the park opens during their usual opening hours. Easy answers out of the way, now for some tips on what to do in Nagano during New Years!
*”Kin-ga-shin-nen,” meaning Happy New Year in Japanese.
One thing to know in advance is that Shinkansen lines from Tokyo will be filled with people. New Year Season is a major holiday season in Japan, and people travel all at the same time to go back home. This rush usually starts just before New Year’s Eve and can last up to the 5th of January. So if you want to book your train seat, it is highly advised! For the procedure of Shinkansen booking, please see the other blog here.
Now having arrived in Nagano, going to the Snow Monkey Park is definitely possible. Again, the public transport heading for the Snow Monkey area could be quite crowded. But have no fear, there are extra buses that also go to the Snow Monkey Park. If the train is full, you can get the bus and if the bus is full, you can get the train or the next bus. Many people tend to travel to the Snow Monkey Park during this time, so some waiting time is to be expected.
After a visit to the Snow Monkey Park, going to Zenko-ji Temple at the time of New Years will give you a cultural experience you couldn’t have the rest of the year. The Japanese go to temples or shrines on one of the first few days of the New Year, a ritual called Hatsumoude, meaning the first greeting to a temple/shrine. An important temple like Zenko-ji will be packed with people, waiting in line so they can make their New Year’s prayers. Just come with an expectation of waiting, and you’ll have a good time!