Spring (Apr-May) at the Jigokudani Monkey Park
As the weather warm-up in April, and Nagano escapes its long, cold winter, spring offers lots of reasons to visit the Jigokudani Monkey Park. It is a time of renewal and new beginnings. As the region’s stunning cherry blossoms come to bloom in April, the park welcomes the newborn babies for the season; and as the snow retreats in the mountains, some of Nagano’s most iconic destinations including Kamikochi, the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, and the Nakasendo Trail become accessible again.
When planning your visit, we recommend you start with our ‘Jigokudani Monkey Park’ activity page which includes tips and suggestions for getting the most out of your visit.
For information regarding opening times, entry tickets and access please refer to our ‘Snow Monkey Park Information’ page, while our ‘The Snow Monkeys FAQ’ page answers the most common questions when planning a visit.
What to expect in spring
April to May is a fantastic time to visit the park. With the snow mostly gone, warm days encourage new growth in the park, which gradually turns lush green through may. Warmer temperatures also mean that the monkeys are more active, scurrying about the park and forest seemingly happy that the cold of winter has now gone.
The monkeys behaviour is reliable however from late-April onward, expectant mothers will give birth. Prior to doing so, they retreat into the mountains where they give birth away from prying eyes. Once comfortable again, the mums will return with their babies, often after around a weeklong absence. This means that total monkey numbers can sometimes be less in spring but it isn’t something to worry about. There should still be plenty of them in the park.
The weather should be warm and the trail and park will be free of snow and ice, Nevertheless, good quality footwear is recommended and it is always worth be prepared for the walk to the park with merchandise and English-language information available at the Snow Monkey Resorts Gift & Info Shop.
The weather will typically go up and down through spring however one thing is certain, peak season at the park is over and visitor numbers will be much lower. Daytime temperatures are likely to between 10°C and 20°C but be prepared that it can suddenly dip, with the possibility of around 5°C.
For information regarding other seasons in the monkey park, please refer our ‘Snow Monkey Park Throughout the Year’ page.
Recommended things to do in and around the park in spring
As the snow retreats and the mountains open-up, many adventures await spring visitors to Nagano. Our ’10 Things to do in Nagano in Spring & Summer’ is a great place to start, which paints a picture that it’s time to get outdoors and explore:
OK… there’s simply no other place to start than Nagano’s spectacular cherry blossoms. Known as ‘sakura’ in Japanese, the blossoms of Nagano bloom later than Tokyo, typically from around the first week of April. While it varies between years, visitors can expect the peak bloom – called ‘mankai’ in Japanese – in the middle weeks of April.
Home to several famous destinations and countless local flower-viewing sites, Nagano is an ideal destination for visitors wanting to experience hanami away from the crowds of Kyoto and Tokyo. Our ‘Where are the Best Blossoms in Nagano?’ page is a great place to start when choosing where to go.
Of course, we always look forward to our yearly cherry blossom tours in April. For further details please refer below to ‘Join a Spring Tour’ or access our full tour list through our ‘Tours’ page.
The Snow Walls of Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route
Sitting over 3000 meters above sea level, Mt Tate is one of Japan’s highest mountains. One of several peaks in the North Japan Alps that ascend to over 3000 meters, the dramatic alpine landscape is subject to heavy snow through winter.
Often referred to as the ‘Roof of Japan’, the region is accessible from mid-November until April at which time, humans venture back and with great effort and ingenuity, re-carve the road from Bijodaira to Murodo Station.
In doing so, the grand Snow Walls of Tateyama-Kurobe are carved anew. Towering up to 20 meters in height, the vast walls dwarf not only people but also the large coaches that transport them to and from Murodo Station. Although the Snow Walls are only one visible for a matter of months, they are without doubt the most famous attraction of the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route – one of Japan’s most iconic sights.
Interested in a guided tour to the Snow Walls? Please refer below to ‘Join a Spring Tour’ or access our full tour list through our ‘Tours’ page.
Sitting quietly in the mountains bordering Nagano City, Togakushi is home to some of Japan’s most important Shinto shrines set among a beautiful forested landscape. The five major shrines that make-up the Togakushi complex are spaced-out at intervals through the forest and set against the dramatic background of mountains rising above.
Accessible via well-maintained walking tracks, Togakushi continues to draw Shinto practitioners and nature enthusiasts who revel in its tranquillity, beauty, and purity.
On the literal doorstep of the city, Togkuashi is also home to the Togakure ninja school, Togakushi Ski Resort and famous for its ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles), traditional bamboo craft and stunning autumn leaves making it an ideal destination when planning at day-trip from Nagano.
Often described as one of the country’s most beautiful natural treasures, Kamikochi sits high in the Hida Mountains – Japan’s highest mountain range. Also known as the ‘Kita Alps/Mountains’ or ‘North Japan Alps[, the mountain range is one of three – along with the Kiso and Akaishi Mountains (or Central and Southern Japan Alps) – which make-up Japan’s mountainous heartland.
Nestled high in the Hida Mountains, Kamikochi is found at the southern tip of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. A true alpine oasis sitting beneath the high peaks of Mt Yari (3180m), Mt Hotaka (3190) and Mt Yakedake (2455m), the valley follows the Azusa River and is home to diverse range of flora and fauna. Hiking trails span-out along the valley floor and follow the river as it meanders north to south, before more advanced hiking and climbing routes ascend to the mountains above. Truly one of Japan’s most remarkable natural landscapes
Interested in a guided tour to Kamikochi? Please refer below to ‘Join a Spring Tour’ or access our full tour list through our ‘Tours’ page.
Join a spring tour
Through April and May, we offer a range of group tours including seasonal and special events tours.
Our 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano Tour is one of the most popular of the year. This tour combines a visit to the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park with an afternoon of cherry blossom-viewing at some of Nagano’s best blossom sites. Known as ‘sakura’ in Japanese, the stunning flowers are a must-see for any visitor in spring, with Nagano’s countless blossom trees coming into bloom later than other areas – the perfect activity to combine with your visit to the Snow Monkeys!
Our Special Event: Takato Castle Park Cherry Blossom Tour takes guests to one of Japan’s most famous blossom-viewing sites – home to around 1500 cherry trees. Also including a stop at Matsumoto Castle, a registered National Treasure, this tour is a convenient and fun way to enjoy of one of Japan’s most famous blossom-viewing spots in combination with one of the last remaining Japanese castles.
May our 1-Day Snow Walls of Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route Tour and 1-Day Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley Tour return, offering guests the chance to visit two of Japan’s most iconic and stunning landscapes.
Always popular, our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple and Sake Tour runs throughout the year and combines a morning visit to Nagano’s near-1400 year old Zenko-ji Temple, followed by a warming sake tasting and lunch, followed by an early afternoon visit to the monkeys.
For full details regarding all available tours, please refer to our ‘Tours’ page.
Want to learn more about the monkeys?
Why not book at tour! Operating all year round we are Nagano’s No.1 rated tour and charter operator!
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 operate a variety of group tours that combine a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park with other nearby attractions and experiences.
We offer the local knowledge, support, and service that you need to get the most out of your adventure in Japan including private tours and charters to any destination 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.