Information About The Walk To The Snow Monkey Park
Planning a trip to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park? Visiting Nagano’s famous monkeys is a unique and unforgettable experience. On this page you will find the following information:
Famous for their ability to thrive in the cold and deep snow of winter, the monkeys in fact come to the park all year round. So no matter what time of year that you’re headed to Nagano, we hope you choose to visit and that the following information is helpful in planning your visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
HOW TO GET TO THE MONKEY PARK
Many if not most visitors heading to the park do so via Nagano Station. From the station, you have two options to reach the monkey park using public transport – either an express bus directly to the park or a limited express train to Yudanaka Station followed by local bus onto the park. Both options take around 50-minutes.
The Snow Monkey Express Bus service operates from Bus Stop No.23 outside the East Exit of Nagano Station. There are multiple services throughout the day with additional services through winter. A one-way fare to the monkey park costs JPY1500. No advance booking is required. Tickets are purchased from the driver when boarding the bus. Cash only.
LIMITED EXPRESS TRAIN + LOCAL BUS
The Nagano Dentetsu Line runs from Nagano Station to Yudanaka Station, the nearest train station to the monkey park. Both local and limited express services run regularly throughout the day, with limited express services taking around 45-minutes / JPY1290 one-way. To access the line, exit Nagano Station via the Zenkoji Exit and take the escalator outside to the basement level of the station.
Once at Yudanaka, local bus services run to the park. Taking between 7 to 10 minutes / JPY310 one-way, the bus is easy to use and station staff are usually on hand to assist if necessary. For more information including which option works best for you, see our ‘Bus or Train? How to Get to the Snow Monkey Park from JR Nagano Station’ blog.
WALKING FROM THE BUS STOP TO THE PARK
Whether you use the express bus from Nagano Station to the park or take a local bus from Yudanaka Station, you will be dropped at Snow Monkey Park bus stop. The stop is at the bottom of a small hot spring village called Kanbayashi Onsen. The monkey park is located at the top of the village, around a 7 to 10-minute walk. You really can’t go wrong, just follow the signs and other visitors up the hill and toward the entrance to the trail leading to the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
VISIT ON A TOUR
Of course, the easiest way to visit the park is to partake in a guided tour that includes transportation. This will eliminate any stress and difficulty that can occur when using public transport, freeing you up to focus on enjoying the monkeys.
WALKING ALONG THE TRAIL INTO THE PARK
To access the monkey park, you must walk along a forest trail located at the top of Kanbayashi Onsen. Kanbayashi is small and the trail entrance is located next to the Snow Monkey Resort Information and Gift Shop. You really cannot miss it! The Info & Gift Shop has lots of monkey merchandise and during winter, rental gear including snow boots and jackets. However please note that entry tickets for the monkey park are not sold here and there are no toilets. Tickets for the park are purchased at the park itself, at the end of the trail.
The trail to the park is 1.6 km / 1 mile in both directions. It is unsealed but well-maintained and other than a short staircase at the trail entrance and a final steep staircase and sloped path at the end of the trail / entrance to the park itself, the trail is completely level and easy to walk.
When the weather is fine, this is an easy walk and it takes about 20 to 25 minutes. From April to November, you might get some rain and days when the trail is a little muddy, but other than that, it is almost always easy to walk during those months.
WALKING THE TRAIL IN WINTER
Things are different in winter. From early-December onward, the trail and park can be subject to snow and ice with heavy snowfall a regular occurrence from the second half of December until early-March. During this time, the walk to the park is more likely to take 30 to 40 minutes. It can also be extremely cold with temperatures regularly below 0°C and possibly dropping below -10°C. During the winter months the path can become very slippery and it is easy to fall so please proceed with caution at all times.
Dressing appropriately for these conditions including good quality shoes or boots is essential during winter. For visitors who don’t have appropriate winter clothing or footwear, The Snow Monkey Resorts Info & Gift Shop provides a range of rental services including snow boots (JPY800) and winter jackets (JPY500). Rental boots and jackets are subject to availability on the individual day and cannot be booked in advance. Cramp-ons (metal spikes that attach to the sole of your shoe or boot) are available for purchase (JPY1350) along with winter clothing including hats and gloves. For visitors carrying luggage that would be cumbersome to take along the trial and into the park, the Info & Gift Shop will happily look after it for you with their left baggage service (JPY500 per item).
SNOW MONKEY RESORTS INFO & GIFT SHOP
Need assistance while at the park? The Snow Monkey Resorts Info & Gift Shop is located at the entrance of the trail leading to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Offering a range of services including winter rentals and English language information, luggage storage, along with monkey merchandise and souvenirs including official Snow Monkey Resorts products, the SMR Info & Gift Shop has you covered when visiting the park. Open from early October until late May, 9AM to 5PM, English-speaking staff can answer your questions on your way to and from the park including bus timetables and information about nearby attractions.
WHEELCHAIR & MOBILITY-IMPAIRED ACCESS
As explained above, accessing the park requires visitors to get themselves along a 1.6km / 1 mile trail. There is no other way into the park. For visitors using a wheelchair, navigating the trail is likely to be difficult. It is unsealed and while well-maintained and mostly level, it is subject to weather conditions including snow and ice in winter and rain at anytime of year. When it rains, it can become muddy. Not excessively so but enough to make moving along the trail in a wheelchair difficult. The trail also includes a steep incline at the beginning – a section of around 20 metres – followed by a steep staircase at the end of the trail, immediately before you enter the park itself. Both of these cannot be navigated in a wheelchair. For that reason, if you are reliant on a wheelchair and cannot walk for periods, we recommend that you do not attempt to visit the park for your own safety.
Guests who are mobility-impaired but can walk for sustained periods, should be able to make it to the park from spring to autumn. Just go slow and be mindful on the staircase. During winter, expect the trail and park to be affected by snow and ice. If you cannot walk confidently and navigate slippery areas, we recommend not walking along the trail or entering the park during winter. It can be tricky for many visitors and if you’re not steady on your feet and can walk up to 40-minutes in both directions without needing to sit – as there is only one place to sit along the trail, a small gazebo positioned about halfway along the trail – and no other seats or benches along the way. If you don’t feel confident to be able to walk that distance without needing to sit, for your own safety, we recommend that you don’t attempt the walk.
DINING OPTIONS AT THE PARK
Visitors the the park can enjoy a couple of great dining options starting with Enza Cafe. Located immediately before the trail entrance, Enza Cafe serves both Japanese and Western dishes, coffee and other drinks including craft beer and more – the ideal place to grab a snack or sit down for a meal or drink before or after heading into the park.
Enza’s menu includes delicious chicken ramen, sushi, fried chicken and french fries, coffee, hot chocolate, refreshing soft drinks and juices, and alcoholic beverages. Most menus can be taken out, but please note that food and drinks cannot be taken into the park so if you’re after takeaway, do so when departing the park otherwise your tasty little snack is likely to become the property of one of the monkeys!
The cafe offers both indoor and outdoor seating and a relaxed, open-plan design which encourages you to take your time at the park. For visitors headed there through spring to autumn, Enza’s large terrace is an ideal spot to enjoy a meal and drink – especially beautiful in autumn as the large ‘momoji’ above the terrace turns deep red.
Further down the hill and nearby the bus stops, Hotarutei offers visitors the nearest fine-dining experience to the monkey park Housed in a converted 170-year old farmhouse.
Hotarutei serves an indulgent menu of tempura, wagyu beef, hot pot and sushi in a tranquil atmosphere. Particularly beautiful as the snow falls in winter, we recommend Hotarutei to any visitor looking to enjoy a more traditional Japanese meal during their time at the monkey park. Please note that reservations are required at least 3 days prior to the date of your visit.
PUBLIC TOILETS AT THE PARK
There are public toilets located at the parking area just before Enza Cafe. This is the last public toilet before the park – approximately 30 minutes walk in spring to autumn and up to 40 or 45 minutes walk in winter. Once at the park, you will also find toilets inside the main building.
TOURS AND CHARTERS TO THE MONKEY PARK
As Nagano’s No.1 tour operator, we are proud to offer multiple tours that combine a visit to the Snow Monkey Park with other fun local activities. No matter the season, we can help you make the most of your time in Nagano. Whether with your family or friends, or on your own, we are sure to have something that suits your needs!
1 Day Tour
|1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano
|All Year Round
|09:35 – 17:35
Hakuba (winter only)
Our most popular offering is our “1-Day Tour: Snow Monkey Park, Zenkoji Temple and Sake in Nagano“. Guests on this delightful excursion will first be treated to Sake Tasting and a guided tour of the historic Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, including lunch at a nearby restaurant.
With the first half of the tour complete, you will then depart for the Monkey Park on our private tour vehicle. Once you have arrived your guide will lead the way up to the place the Monkeys call home, before you once again board the bus and return to your starting destination.
1 Day Tour
|1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Snow Fun In Shiga Kogen
|December to March
|08:45 – 17:30/18:00
Snow Monkey Park Area
For those guests coming in the Winter, we also offer the “1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Snow Fun in Shiga Kogen“, combining exciting snow activities such as sledding and riding snow scoots with a visit to the Monkey Park. Lunch is also included, making for the perfect day trip for anyone looking to experience what winter in Nagano is all about!
1 Day Tour
|[Spring Only] 1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano
|09:35 – 17:30/18:30
|Hotel Kokusai 21
Another unforgettable tour is our “1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano“. Including two of Japan’s most amazing natural spectacles, the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms and the hot-spring loving monkeys of Jigokudani, this offering is the easiest way to enjoy a relaxed spring day in Nagano.
|[START FROM NAGANO CITY] Private Snow Monkey Tour
|All Year Round
|09:00 to 17:15 ~ 18:30
|Any location in Nagano City
|¥122,000 ~ / group
For those who want a more customized experience, we also offer private tours of the Snow Monkey Park and nearby attractions such as Zenkoji Temple. For more information, please click the link above or send us an inquiry describing your ideal itinerary.
CHARTER A VEHICLE TO THE SNOW MONKEY PARK!
For those interested in private charter services, we would be pleased to provide a vehicle and propose an itinerary to suite your needs! Please see our charter page and send us your trip details so we can can start planning your journey together.