From Kyoto: How To Get To The Snow Monkey Park
As Japan’s capital and residence of the emperor for more than one thousand years – from 794 until 1868 – Kyoto boasts unmatched historic importance and traditional aesthetic, typified by its many astounding temples. From Kyoto, it’s a long way to the monkey park but thanks to Japan’s fantastic train network, you make the journey in around 5 hours. On this page you will find the following information:
Behind Tokyo, Kyoto is certainly the most well-known of Japanese cities; and in contrast to the modern capital or its nearby neighbour Osaka, Kyoto retains much of its historic character and allows visitors to glimpse of Japan now long-gone. Most famous for its many temples and historic districts such as Gion, Kyoto is also a modern city with fantastic restaurants, museums and galleries and shopping precincts. For suggestions of what’s on offer, see our ’40 Things To Do In Kyoto, Nara & Osaka’ page.
From Kyoto, it’s an easy onward journey to the east and into Central Japan. Home of most of Japan’s tallest mountains, Central Japan is a dramatic and beautiful region known for its natural and outdoor attractions including the iconic Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, historic Nakasendo Trail, Matsumoto Castle, Kamikochi, the shrines of Togakushi and of course, the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are the region’s No.1 tour and charter operator. Our group tours run throughout the year, including multiple tours to the monkeys. We can also arrange private tours and charters to the park along with any destination in the region, and as a registered travel agent, we can package transport, accommodation and more together so you save and get the most out of your time at the park, Nagano and beyond – scroll to the bottom for details.
WHERE IS THE JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK?
The Jigokudani Monkey Park – often referred to as the Snow Monkey Park – is around 35KM / 50-minutes to the north-east of central Nagano City and approximately 450KM / 6-hours drive north-east of Kyoto. Open every day, the monkeys come to the park through the year making it one of Nagano’s most popular attractions. When heading to the park using public transport from Kyoto, you have several options that will get you to Nagano Station, from where an express bus runs directly to Kanbayashi Onsen – where the park is located – or alternatively, you can take the Nagano Dentetsu railway to Yudanaka Station – the nearest train station to the park – and from there, take a local bus to the park. Both options take around 50 to 55-minutes in total to get there – and a total journey time of around 5-hours from Kyoto. The park is located in the small hot spring village of Kanbayashi Onsen, which itself is located in the wider region of Yamanouchi – a region including the park, multiple hot spring villages, Shiga Kogen Ski Resort, the smaller ski resorts of Kita-Shiga Kogen and Joshinetsu Kogen National Park. Within easy reach of Nagano City, visiting the monkey park as a day-trip is easy while also providing lots of reasons to stay in the area on a multi-day visit.
DIRECTIONS TO THE PARK FROM KYOTO
To reach the Jigokudani Monkey Park from Kyoto is a three-stage journey. You must first get to Nagano via either Kanazawa, Naoyga or Tokyo. All options take around 4 hours. Once in Nagano, you then make the onward journey to the park. We recommend doing so via Kanazawa – as it is slightly cheaper and faster – but either option works. To reach Nagano, choose either of these options:
Regular services connect the two cities each day – approximately 135 minutes / JPY6490*.
Using the Kagayaki service, the journey will take 66 minutes and costs JPY9120 (reserved seats only) or using the Hakutaka service, it will take 90 minutes and cost JPY8590 (non-reserved). It is important to note the Hakutaka also has the option of reserved seats*.
3 / Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions below.
1 / From Kyoto Station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya – 35 min / JPY5170 – from Kyoto*.
3 / Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions below.
*All services listed above – other than Nozomi services on the Tokaido Shinkasen line – are covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass.
**It is worth noting that while the Shinano Line offers passengers a very picturesque and enjoyable journey, the nature of the line – a single track – and design of the train mean that it is prone to sway and shake. For many passengers this will not be a problem but for those who suffer from motion sickness, it is known to be a problem. For that reason, we recommend the first option of heading to the monkey park via Kanazawa – as detailed above.
1 / From Kyoto Station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Tokyo. The ‘Nozomi’ service is the fastest – approximately 135 minutes / JPY13,320 – but is not covered by the JR Pass or JR Hokuriku Arch Pass. Alternatively, the Hikari service is covered by the passes – approximately 160minutes / JPY13,320*.
The Hakutaka and Asama services also stop at Nagano but take a little longer – 90 to 110 minutes depending on which service you use*.
3 / Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions below.
ACCESSING THE PARK VIA NAGANO STATION
Once at Nagano Station, you have two choices to reach the park – express bus or train*:
1 / Use the Nagaden Snow Monkey Express Bus directly from the station to the monkey park
2 / Take a train on the Nagano Dentetsu Line followed by a Nagaden local bus to the 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.
*Not sure which option is best of you? See our ‘How To Get To the Jigokudani Monkey Park’ main page for suggestions of what works best.
1 / USING THE NAGADEN EXPRESS BUS
The Nagaden Snow Monkey Express Bus 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.
2 / USING THE NAGANO DENTETSU LINE
Using limited express services on the Nagano Dentetsu Line, 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.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATION IN NAGANO CITY
Given the distance and time taken to reach Nagano from Kyoto, we recommend staying at least one night. When staying in Nagano City, we recommend Hotel Kokusai 21. One of Nagano’s most established international hotels with a reputation built on attentive service, in-house services, Western-style amenities and English-speaking staff, Kokusai 21 is our recommendation for guests wanting the convenience, comfort and service of an international hotel in the heart of the city.
SNOW MONKEY PARK GENERAL INFORMATION
Open every day of the year, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is one of Nagano’s most popular destinations. Our ‘Snow Monkey Park Information’ page has everything you need to know including opening times, prices, the park rules, FAQs and more. We hope you enjoy your visit with our favourite furry friends.
25 THINGS TO DO AROUND THE MONKEY PARK & WHERE TO STAY
Often referred to as the Snow Monkey Park, you’d be forgiven for thinking the park is only open and the monkeys only venture there in winter. While it’s true they are most famous for their winter antics, the monkeys come to the park all year round and there are just as many reasons to visit in spring, summer and autumn. Located in the beautiful rural enclave of Yamanouchi and within easy reach of Nagano City, visiting the park can be easily combined with plenty of nearby destinations and activities, as a day-trip or multi-day visit. Our ’25 Things To Do Around The Jigokudani Monkey Park & Where To Stay’ page has lots of tips and suggestions of what’s on offer and the best area to stay when visiting the monkeys.
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Based in Nagano, we operate a range of vehicles that can be privately chartered to transport you to any regional destination, including the Jigokudani Monkey Park. We can also provide charters to any destination, with customised itineraries to suit your travel needs and interests. 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. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
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! We also 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.
1 Day Tour
|1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano|
|Period||All Year Round|
|Time||09:35 – 17:35|
|Meeting Place||Nagano Station |
Hakuba (winter only)
Tours start and end at Nagano Station, making them easily accessible and one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the region. Operating all year round we offer a range of group tours through winter, spring, summer and autumn – including to the monkey park and many other regional destinations. Tours are led by locally-based, English-speaking guides.
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2022 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 and Central Japan.
Got a question about visiting the monkeys from Kyoto? Click the INQUIRY button below or contact us and let’s get planning together!