FROM OSAKA: HOW TO GET TO THE SNOW MONKEY PARK
Osaka is one of Japan’s great metropolises offering visitors an endless array of things to do. Known for its relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals, Osaka offers a very different experience to Tokyo. Whereas the capital tends to be a little reserved and people keep more to themselves, when visiting Osaka, expect smiles and engaging conversations. Osaka people really do like to chat!
Only 30 minutes from Kyoto, Osaka also offers contrasting sights, sounds and experience to the refined old capital. Osaka has always been a trading city where the art of negotiation and skilled conversation is paramount, very much moulding the character of the city today. Whereas Kyoto is refined and reserved, Osaka is fast-paced, vibrant and notably louder.
It’s a great city to shop and eat – a real foodie’s city. Not only is the Japanese cuisine fantastic, you’ll find some of Japan’s best foreign cuisine in Osaka. Make sure you allow a night or two to explore the city’s many great restaurants followed by some bar-hopping. Given the friendly nature of the locals, it really is one of the Japan’s best cities for nightlife.
Many if not most international visitors, a trip to Osaka will be part of a longer journey including Tokyo. Sitting between Osaka in the west and Tokyo in the east, Central Japan should not be overlooked and can be easily incorporated into any itinerary. Located in Nagano, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is one of the region’s most popular attractions – one that is readily accessible from Osaka given the efficiency of the Japanese train network.
To reach the Jigokudani Monkey Park from Osaka is a three-stage journey. You must first get to Nagano via either Kanazawa or Tokyo. From 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:
1 / Take the ‘Thunderbird’ limited express to Kanazawa from Osaka Station. Regular services connect the two cities each day – approximately 150 minutes / JPY7260*.
2 / Once at Kanazawa Station, transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Tokyo via Nagano. Using the Kagayaki service, the journey will take 66 minutes and costs JPY9120 (reserved seats only) or using the Hakutaka service, it will takes 90 minutes and cost JPY8590 (non-reserved). It is important to note the Hakutaka also has the option of reserved seats*. For the daily schedule, please refer to our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Timetable’ page.
3 / Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions below.
1 / From Shin-Osaka Station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Tokyo. The ‘Nozomi’ service is the fastest – approximately 150 minutes / JPY13,870 – but is not covered by the JR Pass or JR Hokuriku Arch Pass. Alternatively, the Hikari service is covered by the passes – approximately 175 minutes / JPY13,870*.
2 / At Tokyo Station, transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano or Kanazawa. The Kagayaki service is the fastest option to reach Nagano – approximately 80 to 85 minutes / JPY8340. The Hakutaka and Asama services also stop at Nagano but take a little longer – 90 to 110 minutes depending on which service you use*. For the daily schedule, please refer to our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Timetable’ page.
3 / Once at Nagano Station, 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, also 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.
Too 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 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 Osaka, 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.
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, 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.
We can also provide private tours and 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.
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 Osaka? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!