From Matsumoto: How To Get To The Snow Monkey Park
Home to one of Japan’s last remaining castles, Matsumoto is one of Central Japan’s most enjoyable destinations. This small city is home to a thriving arts scene with many good cafes, shops and restaurants – definitely worth visiting and all within easy reach of the Jigokudani Monkey Park. On this page you will find the following information:
Matsumoto is also conveniently located, allowing any visit to easily be combined with trips to some of the region’s most enjoyable destinations including Takayama, Shirakawa-go & Goyakama, Kamikochi, the Nakasendo Trail and of course, the Jigokudani Monkey Park. For suggestions of everything on offer in the region, see our ’25 Things To Do Around Matsumoto & Where To Stay’ page.
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 around 100KM / 1.5-hours drive to the north-east of Matsumoto. 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 Matsumoto Station, it will be easiest to do so from 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 add-up to a total journey time of between 2 to 3-hours from Matsumoto (depending on train connections). 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 MATSUMOTO
To reach the monkey park from Matsumoto is a two-stage journey requiring you to first get to Nagano:
1 / From Matsumoto Station, take the Limited Express Shinano bound for Nagano Station. Regular services run throughout the day and take approximately 50 minutes / JPY2,370 to reach Nagano. The daily train schedule can be found on our ‘Limited Express Shinano Line Timetable’ page. Alternatively, the local train which takes 60-80 minutes / JPY1,170 can also be used to reach Nagano Station.
2 / 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 JPY1,800 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 – JPY1,800 each way – and payable with cash or credit card equipped with the tap to pay feature. 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 JPY1,290. 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
The monkey park can be visited as a day trip from Matsumoto or you also have the option of staying in Nagano, from where you can explore destinations including Togakushi and the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route. 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.
TOURS AND CHARTERS FROM MATSUMOTO TO THE MONKEY PARK
For those travelers staying in the Matsumoto area, it will of course be tempting to visit the Monkey Park. However, as written above, by public transport it can take a rather long time to reach the park. An easier way to reach the park would be to charter a vehicle or partake in a tour, and luckily we are here to provide those services!
|[START FROM MATSUMOTO/AZUMINO] Private Snow Monkey Tour
|All Year Round
|Any location in Matsumoto/Azumino
|¥160,000 ~ / group
While we do not offer a group tour of the Monkey Park starting from Matsumoto, we do offer a private tour! Our vehicle will come to pick you up wherever you are staying, and from there your tour will begin. With a visit to the historic Zenkoji Temple included as well, you will have a full day of fun experiences ahead of you.
If your group does not need a guide, our private charter service is the perfect solution to transport to and from the Monkey Park. Our clean and well maintained vehicles are ready to transport you to the Monkey Park, or other destinations, as you please. Click the link above to get in contact with us about pricing and availability.
TOURS AND CHARTERS IN THE MATSUMOTO AREA
While you are in Matsumoto, why not try one of our tours in the area? We have a number of differing options which will make your stay even more enjoyable and introduce you to the deeper culture of the area. We also can offer private tours paired with a charter service to bring you where you want to go, whenever you want to.
1 Day Tour
|1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Kamikochi & Matsumoto Castle
|April to November
|08:15 – 18:30
Offering pickup from both Matsumoto Station and Nagano Station, this tour is the easiest way to get in to the Kamikochi Valley area and enjoy some hiking in the refreshing mountain air. With a morning visit to Matsumoto Castle and its surrounding neighborhoods, this tour then continues directly into the heart of Kamikochi where you will have a 1.5 hour hike followed by free time to take in the scenery for yourself. While closed in Winter, the park reopens in April and is beautiful in all seasons!
1 Day Tour
|1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Experience Matsumoto Castle and Narai-juku
|All Year Round
|08:15 – 18:15
Operating even throughout the Winter months when Kamikochi is closed, this tour pairs a visit to Matsumoto Castle with the famously well preserved Edo Era post town of Naraijuku. Here, you will be charmed by rustic architecture from the past, and have the chance to pretend as though you are a traveler on the Nakasendo in centuries past.