From Karuizawa: How to Get to the Snow Monkey Park
As a convenient stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – which runs from Tokyo to Kanazawa via Nagano – Karuizawa is a popular mountain town for both Japanese and international visitors. In summer, the altitude and beautiful setting of Karuizawa offers a welcome escape from the heat and humidity of Tokyo while in winter, the town’s small ski resort and many excellent hotels and restaurants offer comfort and a little taste of Tokyo nestled within a snow-covered mountain landscape.
Between those seasons, spring and autumn also offer beauty and escape from the cities with Karuizawa increasingly popular for its expansive Prince Karuizawa Shopping Plaza, located right next to the station. From Kaurizawa, regional destinations including Kusatsu Onsen, Mt Asama and Mt Kusatsu-Shrine are all within the boundaries of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park and readily accessible.
Only 30 minutes by shinkansen from Nagano City, Karuizawa is also within easy reach of the many ski resorts of Nagano and the world-famous Jigokudani Monkey Park. For tips and suggestions of what to do while in the area, please refer to our ’25 Things to do in & around Karuizawa’ page.
Visitors heading to the monkey park from Karuizawa basically have two choices:
1 / to make the journey by public transport from Karuizawa Station to Nagano Station and then onto the park
2 / visit the park on a group tour, private tour or private charter.
We hope that the following information assists in planning your visit to the monkeys.
Accessing the park via Karuizawa Station
From Karuizawa Station, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen – Asama service – to Nagano Station. It takes 30 minutes and costs JPY3210 for a non-reserved seat.
Further details regarding how to use the shinkansen can be found on our ‘Hokuriku Shinansen’ page with timetables to and from Karuizawa available on our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Timetable’ page. This service is covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass, JR East Pass and JR Hokuriku Arch Pass.
Once in Nagano, follow the directions below.
Accessing the park via Nagano Station
1 / use the Nagaden Snow Monkey Express Bus directly from the station to the monkey park
Starting from Nagano Station, the express bus costs JPY1500 each way and takes 45 minutes (to the park) and 55 minutes (back from the park). In comparison, the express train from Nagano Station to Yudanaka Station takes around 45 minutes and costs JPY1290, followed by an 8 minute local bus ride, costing JPY310 – meaning that the option of an express train + local bus will cost a total of JPY1600 and take at least 55 to 60 minutes (depending on train and bus timetables).
*Please note, the Nagaden express bus, train and local buses are not covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass, JR East Pass or JR Hokuriku Arch Pass.
Using the Nagaden Express Service from/to Nagano Station
The Snow Monkey Express operates from Bus Stop No.23, on the east side of the station. Simply line-up for the bus and once onward you buy your ticket directly from the driver – JPY1500 each way – and cash only.
To check the bus schedule, please refer to our ‘Nagaden Express Bus Timetable’ page.
Using the Nagaden Express Train from/to Nagano Station
The journey takes approximately 45 minutes and costs JPY1290. Local services from Nagano to Yudanaka are only slighter cheaper – at JPY1190 – but take substantially longer and require passengers to transfer trains. As such, we always recommend using an express service to reach Yudanaka.
For the train schedule, please refer to our ‘Nagano Dentetsu Line Timetable’ page.
Once at Yudanaka Station you need to jump-on a Nagaden local bus for the final leg of your journey to the park. Two local bus lines – the Kanbayashi Line and Shiga Kogen Line – head to stops nearby the monkey park. The ride is only around 8 minutes and costs JPY310 per adult and JPY160 per child. The ride back from the park takes a little longer – around 15 minutes – due to a different route and stops. Yudanaka is a small station and the buses operate from directly outside. You can’t miss them!
For the local bus schedule, please refer to our ‘Nagano Dentetsu Local Bus Timetable’ page.
Visit the Monkey Park on a Guided Tour
We offer a range of group tours including visits to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Led by locally-based guides, our tours are designed to transport you to and from the park in comfort, while making the day entertaining and engaging. Basically, we want to turn your visit to the park into an experience you love!
Tours start and end at Nagano Station and therefore accessible from Karuizawa using the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Only a 30-minute journey by train from Karuizawa, it’s easy to be in Nagano in-time for the morning meet-up with a quick return journey back to Karuizawa at the end of the day.
We can also provide private charters and tours from Karuizawa to any destination, with customised itineraries to suit your travel needs and interests. Locally-based and operating all year round, we have the expertise and experience to help you get the most out of your time in the region, including transport to and from the monkey park along with any regional destination.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations, in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about visiting the monkeys from Karuizawa? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get planning together!