From Nozawa: How to Get to the Snow Monkey Park
Located 50KM to the north-east of Nagano City, Nozawa Onsen is one of the region’s most popular resorts. Offering a great mix of terrain – particularly well-suited to snowboarders – and a lively village, the resort is now firmly established as a favourite for international visitors. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Japan or seasoned winter veteran, we definitely recommend checking-out Nozawa.
While most international visitors know it as a ski resort, Nozawa boasts a 1300-year history as a natural hot spring town. Known as ‘onsen’ in Japanese, Nozawa is blessed with numerous natural sources of water that long ago established its reputation as a place of healing. Enjoying an onsen while in Nagano is one of most enjoyable experiences possible and it this heritage, which is now driving Nozawa Onsen’s reputation as a place of refuge and retreat in green season.
For any visitor to Nozawa, combining your time there with a visit to the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park is well-worth the effort. Despite the two locations being quite close, there is only one direct bus from Nozawa each day in winter making a private tour or charter an attractive option for many visitors, including larger groups.
Much like the monkeys, we are here all year round! As Nagano’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator, we offer a range of group tours to the monkey park and can arrange private tours and charters to match your needs.
We hope the following information helps in planning your visit to the monkeys from Nozawa and of course, if you’d like to join one of our tours or would like to enquire about a private tour or charter, we’ll be happy to assist!
Directions to the Monkey Park from Nozawa Onsen
For visitors heading to the monkey park from Nozawa, there is a direct bus via Iiyama Station. This is the most convenient way to reach the park from Nozawa however there is only one service a day in winter.
To go directly from Nozawa to the monkey park, take the Shiga Kogen Express Bus for Nozawa Grand Hotel. It departs at 09:45 and takes just over an hour to reach the park at 10:50. There is a second service each day from Iiyama Station to the park, however it does not reach Nozawa:
A return bus from the park departs at 14:20 and arrives at Nozawa at 15:25, with an earlier service only servicing the park to Iiyama Station:
A one-way ticket from Nozawa to the monkey park costs JPY1600. A ticket from Iiyama to the park costs JPY1000.
Accessing the park via Nagano Station
The bus services listed above are the easiest and quickest way to access the park from Nozawa. However, as you will have noted, daily services are very limited. If those times do not suit you, you have the option of making the journey via Nagano Station however it is notably longer and less convenient that going from Nozawa or Iiyama.
This option is really only good for visitors who want to visit the park on the day they are leaving Nozawa i.e. returning to Tokyo and cannot use the early bus from Nozawa, or have a reason to go through Nagano before heading to the park.
It is possible via a three-step journey:
1 / take the bus or taxi from Nozawa to Iiyama Station
2 / take the train from Iiyama to Nagano Station
3 / take another bus or train from Nagano to the monkey park
From Nozawa, you first need to head to Iiyama Station using either the Nozawa Onsen Liner (express bus) – approximately 25 minutes and JPY600 per adult / JPY300 per child – or a taxi.
Buses operate frequently in winter to service demand. Once at Iiyama Station, you then need to head onto Nagano Station. Again, you have two options:
1 / take the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano Station – 11 mins / JPY1390
2/ take the local Iiyama Line bound for Nagano Station – 45 mins / JPY550
Once at Nagano 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
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).
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 are easily accessible from Nozawa via Iiyama Station.
We can also provide private tours and charters from Nozawa 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 ski resort in the region.
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 Nozawa Onsen? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!