Viewing autumn leaves, called koyo in Japanese, is after cherry blossom-viewing the most beloved seasonal activity for the Japanese. If you’re planning on visiting the Snow Monkey Park in fall, we recommend staying a little longer in Nagano Prefecture so you can see the brightly-colored autumn leaves of Shiga Kogen, a highlands area close to the Monkey Park.
From early October the leaves on the trees of Shiga Kogen, a nature reserve 30 minutes from the Snow Monkey Park, start changing color from bright green to yellows, oranges, and reds. The trees change color earlier in the season than the trees around the Snow Monkey Park due to the higher elevation of the nature reserve. Save a full day for a visit to Shiga, as the highland area is vast, and scenic hikes such as the Lake Hike are worth taking the time for.
If you come during the month of October, you can ride the summer lift up to the peak of Yokoteyama. It might already be snowing in October at the top of the 2,307 meter high Yokoteyama so dress in warm clothes.
As a visit to the highlands of Shiga Kogen will likely take up the whole day, it’s best to reserve your visit to the Snow Monkey Park for either the day before or the day after seeing Shiga. The best place to stay is Senjukaku, a ryokan in the Kanbayashi Onsen area right in between the Snow Monkey Park and Shiga Kogen. From Senjukaku, Shiga is only a 30-minute bus ride away, and the Snow Monkey Park a 30-minute walk away.
After a long day outside, Senjukaku provides luxurious comfort with its famous hot springs and food experience. Warm up and take in your surroundings by taking a dip in the ryokan’s communal or private indoor and outdoor baths.
For dinner, the kitchen of Senjukaku prepares and dresses up your meals according to the season. In autumn this means that the Japanese maple leaves will feature frequently in the presentation.
Get the full Japanese autumn experience by seeing the snow monkeys (inching closer to their hot spring), the Shiga Kogen highlands with their red-leaved trees, and food presented in autumnal style at a luxury ryokan.