From Tokyo: How To Get To The Snow Monkey Park
As one of the world’s great cities, Tokyo offers visitors so many things to do, see and experience that it is tempting to spend your entire time in Japan exploring the capital. A truly huge metropolis, Tokyo is without doubt, the financial and political heart of the nation. Yet for many Japanese, Tokyo doesn’t encapsulate the essence of the country. That spirit lies in the villages and traditions of rural areas such as Nagano. Lying to the north-west of Tokyo, Nagano is the gateway to Central Japan – a place of dramatic mountains, abundant farmlands, heavy snow in winter and of course, the Jigokudani Monkey Park. On this page you will find the following information:
Open all year round, the monkeys come to the park in all seasons. Winter is a time of heavy snow, as the ski resorts of Nagano attract visitors from all over the world. As the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano’s pedigree is well-known. Home to around 80 resorts, visitors are spoiled for choice including Shiga Kogen – Japan’s largest resort and the nearest to the monkey park.
Outside of winter, Nagano and Central Japan offer some of Japan’s best outdoor experiences including the iconic Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, the alpine valley of Kamikochi, and the Nakasendo Trail. Spring brings the regions beautiful cherry blossoms into bloom, and through summer and autumn the fruit of Nagano fills the orchards while tables are full of culinary delights, before the stunning leaves of autumn wash over the landscape. For tips and suggestions of what’s on offer in the region, see our ’40 Things To Do Around Nagano & 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 270KM / 4 to 5-hours drive north-west of Tokyo. 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, 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 here. 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.
HOW TO GET TO NAGANO FROM TOKYO
Despite the park being located a long way from Tokyo, the efficiency of Japan’s rail network means that you can get there in under 3-hours making it possible to visit as a day-trip from the capital. To reach the park from Tokyo is a two-stage journey via Nagano Station:
1 / From Tokyo Station or Ueno Station, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano. All services heading north on the Hokuriku Line stop at Nagano, taking 80 to 110 minutes depending on which service – Kagayaki, Hakutaka or Asama – you choose. A one-way fare costs around JPY8,500 and all services on this line are covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass, JR East Pass and JR Hokuriku Arch Pass.
The daily shinkansen schedule from Tokyo to Nagano can be accessed via our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Timetable’ page.
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*:
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). 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.
*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.
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 one-way – and cash only. To check the bus schedule, see our ‘Nagaden Express Bus Timetable’ page.
2 / USING THE NAGANO DENTETSU LINE
The Nagano Dententsu Line operates from the underground level of Nagano Station. The journey from Nagano to Yudanaka Station – the final stop on the line – 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.
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.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATION IN NAGANO CITY
Given the distance and time taken to reach Nagano from Tokyo, we recommend staying in Nagano City for at least one night, from where you can explore destinations including Togakushi and the city’s near-1400 near old Zenko-ji Temple. 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.
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 and operating all year round, we are a registered travel agent and the region’s No.1 rated tour and charter operator. We have the expertise and experience to help you get the most out of your time in the region including any destination or activity listed above starting, of course, with the monkeys! We offer a range of group tours with the option of booking a private tour to the monkeys. As a registered travel agent, we can package your trip to Nagano and Central Japan including group and private tours, ski packages, accommodation, private charters, restaurants, ticketing and more!
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.
For guests wanting to access the resorts in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination. 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 – whichever works best for you!
Why choose us?
Got a question about visiting the monkeys? Click the INQUIRY button below or contact us and let’s get planning together!