SUMMER (JUN-AUG) AT THE JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK
The summer months of June to August at first bring rain and then heat and humidity. Anyone who has visited Japan during summer knows that it can be grueling. The heat and humidity can be unrelenting, especially in the cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. While Nagano will also be hot, its higher altitude blesses it with a cooler and shorter summer. Home to the majority of Japan’s tallest mountains and best hiking and mountaineering, summer is a great time to escape the heat of the cities and head-up high to the rarified air of Central Japan.
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 summer
The true summer heat of Japan is preceded by its wet season. Expected from around mid-June onward, heavy downpours will be fairly frequent and dramatic. As such, it is one of the quietest times of year to visit the park, but also a very good one.
The rain quickly turns the park vibrant green with new growth seemingly appearing out of nowhere. Rain and mist moves through the valley, creating a unique atmosphere which seems to send the monkeys hyperactive.
Heading into July, the new babies are growing in confidence. Mothers allow them to stray and explore a little, a clumsy and awkward display which entertains the few visitors in the park. Come late-July and the start of August, it will be hot. This is the middle of summer and humidity will be high.
In the heat of summer the forest trail is pleasant to walk. Notably cooler and very quiet, strolling to and from the park is enjoyable in its own right. Dress lightly for the heat but take a hat and water. We also recommend wearing good quality footwear and it is always worth be prepared for the walk to the park in winter.
During summer, the Snow Monkey Resorts Info & Gift Shop will be closed however nearby Enza Café will sell the same merchandise, including official souvenirs, and can provide English-language information.
From June onward, temperatures of around 30°C will be punctuated by sudden, heavy downpours. Around mid-July, summer will really take hold and from that time on and until late August, visitors can expect daytime temperatures between 30°C to 40°C with high humidity.
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 summer
The higher altitude of Nagano offers a cooler climate and lots to explore in summer. 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:
Hiking in the mountains of Nagano
Home to many of Japan’s tallest peaks spread across several dramatic mountain ranges, Nagano offers visitors the best summer hiking and mountaineering in the country. Located only 20 to 30 minutes drive from the monkey park, the Joshinestu Kogen National Park – often just referred to as Shiga Kogen – offers leisurely walking trails through a beautiful and ecologically important landscape. Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981, Shiga is home to unique alpine flora and fauna and typically around 10°C cooler than the temperature in the valley below.
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 – some of Japan’s best summer hiking and mountaineering.
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.
Most famous for its Snow Walls, the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route remains open to the public until November and through summer, offers outstanding hiking opportunities. Summiting at over 3000 metres, Mt Tateyama is one of Japan’s three sacred mountains. Ascending the mountain and hiking its high ridges will transport you to another world, far from the heat and hassle of the cities.
For further information regarding hiking in summer, please refer to our ‘Best Trails in Nagano’ 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 daytrip from Nagano.
Home to one of Japan’s last remaining castles, Matsumoto is a pleasant city known for its historic streets, great food and lively arts scene. While the castle is the main attraction, visitors to Matsumoto discover that it has a lot to offer and is the gateway to rural areas such as Azumino and launching point into the North Japan Alps.
From Matsumoto, visitors can access the alpine oasis of Kamikochi before heading onto the historic old town of Takayama and finally, the World Heritage villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.
There’s no better time to explore these destinations and Matsumoto is the perfect starting point for heading deep into Central Japan.
Attend a summer festival
Known as ‘matsuri’ in Japan, festivals take place throughout the year and for all sorts of reasons. A fundamental part of life here, matsuri are a chance for friends, families and communities to come together. Matsuri occur throughout the year but are most frequent in summer.
Visitors coming to Nagano through the warmer months of the year will enjoy the following festival and fireworks displays. The Nagano Gion Festival takes place of the second Sunday every July at the city’s near-1400 year old Zenko-ji Temple and includes traditional events and performances and ubiquitous food stands.
Taking place on the first Saturday every August, the Nagano Binzuru Dance Festival is the city’s largest matsuri. Dating back to 1971, the festival sees numerous dance groups moving down the main thoroughfare of the city with great enthusiasm and noise.
Iizuna Fire Festival takes places on August 10th. An enjoyable and very local festival which climaxes with the burning of a large bonfire preceded by traditional music and dancing and ending with a display of around 2000 fireworks.
Speaking of fireworks, the Azumino Fireworks Festival is held on August 14th and includes an impressive 12000 fireworks. Another truly local, enjoyable, and boisterous summer festival.
Interested in attending this festival on a guided tour? Please refer below to ‘Join a Spring Tour’ or access our full tour list through our ‘Tours’ page.
Join a summer tour
Through June to August, we offer a range of group tours including seasonal and special events tours.
Our 1-Day Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley Tour combines a morning visit to Matsumoto Castle with a guided walk at Kamikochi, before guests are given time to explore the stunning valley by themselves.
Alternatively, our 1-Day Matsumoto Castle & Local Food Experience Tour treats guests to a day of culinary adventures in and Matsumoto before ending the day with an afternoon visit to the castle.
Our 1-Day Azumino Fireworks Festival & Snow Monkeys Tour is a special event tour, which combines a visit to the monkeys with attendance at Azumino’s evening fireworks display.
While 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.