From Takayama: How To Get To The Snow Monkey Park
Takayama is one of the most popular destinations in Central Japan and a stop on many visitors itineraries as they pass through the region. Also located in Central Japan, the Jigokudani Monkey Park lies some distance from Takayama meaning it takes time to travel from one to the other. But thanks to Japan’s fantastic public transport network, that journey is easy to make. On this page you will find the following information:
When people talk about the beauty of Takayama and encourage you to visit, they are speaking of the city’s beautiful historic centre. Known as the ‘Sannomachi’, the historic centre of the city lays claim to being one of Japan’s best remaining examples of an Edo Period town. Takayama is also a great food town, famous for its indulgent Hida beef, local ramen and many other treats.
For these reasons, though small and somewhat distant from the major tourist destinations of Japan, Takayama has quickly become popular with international visitors. From Takayama, destinations including the World Heritage-listed villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, Kamikochi, Matsumoto Castle and of course, the Jigokudani Monkey Park are readily accessible. For suggestions on what’s on offer, see our ’25 Things To Do Around Takayama & 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 approximately 175KM / 3.5 to 4-hours drive north-east of Takayama. 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 Takayama 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 to 6-hours from Takayama. 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 TAKAYAMA
To reach the monkey park from Takayama is a three-stage journey. You must first get to Nagano via either Matsumoto or Kanazawa. From Nagano, you then make the onward journey to the park. Either route allows you to combine your visit with either of those two lovely cities. We recommend making the journey via Toyama – total journey time of between 5 to 6-hours to the park depending on transfers. It takes a little longer than going via Matsumto – which is shorter journey time of 4 to 5-hours to reach the park – but more stages of the journey are covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass making it cheaper for anyone holidng that pass. But in the end, any of these routes will get you to Nagano Station from where you can head to the park:
1 / From Takayama Station, take the Limited Express Hida service to Toyama Station. Taking approximately 90 minutes / JPY2890. The line is popular with tourists, so if you have the chance to book ahead it can be helpful.
Multiple services connect the two cities each day, taking between 45 to 65 minutes / JPY6710-JPY7240 (depending on which service you choose).
3 / Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions below.
1 / From Takayama Station, the Nohi Bus company operates multiple services each day to Matsumoto. The bus departs from the Takayama Bus Terminal, located next to Takayama Station, and takes approximately 2.5 hours / JPY3500 one-way.
3 / Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions below.
1 / From Takayama Station, the Nohi Bus company operates multiple services each day to Kanazawa. The bus departs from the Takayama Bus Terminal, located next to Takayama Station, and takes approximately 2 hours / JPY3600 one-way.
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 take 90 minutes and cost JPY8590 (non-reserved).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
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 Train 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 Takayama, 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
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)
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. Most 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. 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!
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 Takayama? Click the INQUIRY button below or contact us and let’s get planning together!