Winter (Dec-Feb) at the Jigokudani Monkey Park

Winter (Dec-Feb) at the Jigokudani Monkey Park

Nagano’s reputation as one of Japan’s premier winter destinations is well-established. Host of the 1998 Winter Olympics and home to around eighty ski resorts, winter sees an influx of visitors from around the world. Draw to Nagano by its dramatic mountains, huge snowfall, hot springs and friendly atmosphere, there are lots of reasons to travel here in winter. On this page you will find the following information:

What to Expect in Winter

Recommended Activities in Winter

Join a Winter Tour

25 Things to Do Around the Park & Where to Stay

Tours and Charters to the Monkey Park (Year Round)

Hugely popular in winter, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is one of Nagano’s top attractions and one that can be easily combined with other great activities and destinations. Nagano boasts a huge number of ski resorts and hot spring towns making it Japan’s premier winter destination. We hope you choose to join us here in Nagano this winter!


For information regarding opening times, entry tickets and access please refer to our ‘Snow Monkey Park Information’ page, while our ‘The Snow Monkey FAQs’ page answers the most common questions when planning a visit. For a glimpse of what to expect in winter, our monthly capture blogs capture some of the typical monkey antics: December 2021 / January 2022 / February 2022 / February 2023


December to March is the most popular time of year for visitors. Cold temperatures and heavy snow encourage the monkeys to spend a lot of time in the onsen or otherwise huddle together to stay more. The monkeys behaviour is winter is very reliable. Expect them to be in the park by opening at 9AM. They should remain in the park all day however it is always worth noting that they are wild animals, therefore their behaviour cannot be guaranteed. Days of heavy snowfall can affect when they come and go from the park.

The weather will be cold and the park and trail will be affected by snow and ice. Warm clothing and appropriate footwear are essential. It is always worth be prepared for the walk to the park in winter, and for that purpose rental boots and winter clothing are available at the Snow Monkey Resorts Gift & Info Shop.


Located just down the hill from the trail entrance, Enza Cafe is open everyday and serves a delicious and warming menu of both Japanese and Western favourites – the perfect stop before or after the walk to the monkeys to enjoy a sit-down meal, drink or takeaway snack.


Operating by reservation and located only a little further down the trail (near the Nagaden Express Bus Stop), Hotarutei is another recommended lunch option nearby the monkey park and offers classy Japanese Cuisine in a 170 year old, carefully renovated farmhouse.


From early-December onward, visitors can expect the first snow in the park with temperatures falling rapidly – expect a temperature of between 0°C to 10°C during the day – before late-December sees winter take hold with a likely daytime temperature of only 0°C or below. In January and February the temperature can get as low as -10°C to -15°C. For information regarding other seasons in the monkey park, please refer our ‘Snow Monkey Park Throughout the Year’ page.



Host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games and home to around eighty ski resorts, Nagano’s winter credentials speak for itself. Winter is all about enjoying some of Asia’s deepest powder, best skiing and snowboarding, and all manner of fun in the snow. Here’s some of the best things on offer:



The nearest ski resort to the monkey park, Shiga Kogen is Japan’s largest and highest ski resort. As such, Shiga Kogen offers an unmatched expanse of terrain to explore and conquer – around 80 courses, spread over a huge variety of terrain connected by more than 50 chairlifts and gondolas. In total, Shiga Kogen offers around 600 hectares of terrain and 80+ km of trails covered by one all-mountain pass.


Shiga Kogen is both the largest and highest ski resort in Japan. Boasting the highest chair-lifted ski run in Japan – reaching 2307 metres at Yokoteayama – Shiga is notably higher than the nearby resorts of Nozawa Onsen, Myoko Kogen and Hakuba. The altitude and topography of the mountain means that Shiga is blessed with Nagano’s most reliable and longest season.


Want to try something different to skiing and snowboarding? We offer two winter tours to Shiga Kogen in combination with a visit to the monkey park including family-friendly snow fun activities and snowmobiling. For more details, see ‘Join A Winter Tour’ below.



Home to around 80 ski resorts, visitors to Nagano in winter are spoiled for choice. While we are big fans of Shiga Kogen, we are just as keen on many of the other fantastic resorts dotted throughout the region. Around an hours drive from Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen is a popular resort with a lively village. Particularly well-suited to snowboarders, the resort has a youthful atmosphere with lots of restaurants and facilities catering to international visitors.


Of course if you want resorts setup for international visitors, then head to Hakuba. Home to multiple resorts, Hakuba Valley is Nagano’s most international winter sports destination. Blessed with some great terrain including epic backcountry, Hakuba is popular for many reasons. But be warned, it is popular… you won’t find the quiet runs of Shiga Kogen here!



In December, the  Zenko-ji Omotesando Illumination brings the temple and ancient thoroughfare leading to it into radiant light and vivid color. Starting with the road leading to the temple, and then the temple itself, the historic centre of the city will be bathed in purple, violet and silver – an illumination of the mind and imagined Buddhist paradise on Earth.


Taking place every year on January 15th, the ‘Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri’ or ‘Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival’ is one of Japan’s three famous fire celebrations and a rowdy affair in which spectators can’t help but get caught-up in the chaos! This extremely popular event attracts thousands of visitors so you need to plan ahead, especially if you want to stay in Nozawa on the day around the festival. Accommodation is fully booked well in advance of the festival so make sure to book early to avoid disappointment! Please be aware that in 2024, a booking at a hotel in Nozawa Onsen was necessary to attend the festival. This policy may be reused in 2025.


In the first week of February, the Nagano Tomyo Festival runs for one week and brings the city’s most important cultural site, Zenko-ji Temple, into vivid light. First held in 2004 in commemoration of the 1998 Winter Olympics, the festival has quickly become a popular event on the city’s calendar. The festival consists of a week of nightly events, with the nighttime lighting of the temple an act of ‘tomyo’ or offering light to the Buddha and paper lanterns lining Nakamise Street. We provide tours combining a visit to the monkeys with all three festivals. For full details regarding all available tours, please refer to our ‘Tours’ main page.



Nagano and Central Japan is blessed with many onsen that can be enjoyed all year round. Scattered throughout the region, the greatest concentration of hot springs can be found in traditional towns including Kanbayashi Onsen, Shibu Onsen Nozawa Onsen, Yamada Onsen and Bessho Onsen along with Okuhida Onsen, Gero Onsen, Kusatsu Onsen and many others. Onsen can be enjoyed all year round with winter being perhaps the most magical. Sitting in an onsen as the snow falls around you is truly fantastic. With so many hot springs to choose from in Nagano, we recommend making your onsen experience high priority while visiting in winter.



As Nagano’s No.1 rated tour and charter operator, we are happy to provide a variety of tours each winter combining a visit to the monkeys with the regions most unique attractions – starting with our always popular 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple and Sake Tour. In winter, we offer a free shuttle service to and from Hakuba allowing guests to join our most popular tour, with the option off pick-up in Nagano and drop-off in Hakuba (or the reverse order) including luggage transport.

Our 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Snow Fun in Shiga Kogen Tour operates from December until March and combine morning snow fun activities in Shiga Kogen with lunch at a nearby restaurant before heading into the monkey park. This is one of our most popular tours of the year, suitable for both children and adults.

With so much on offer throughout the Winter Season, head to our ‘Tours’ main page for full details.



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 great tips and suggestions of what’s on offer throughout the year.



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!

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.

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!

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.

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.



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.

Snow Monkey Park