How to Get to Yudanaka & Shibu Onsen
Located with the wider region of Yamanouchi, the historic hot spring towns of Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen are convenient points from where to explore many nearby attractions, while also demanding attention in their own right. Boasting histories stretching back more than one thousand, the towns have along drawn visitors from all over Japan who cam seeking refuge and healing in the natural thermal water of their hot springs. On this page you will find the following information:
Most visitors traveling to Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen will do so via Nagano Station. As such, most of the directions provided below instruct how to get to Nagano and from there, follow the directions included in the ‘From Nagano’ section. For visitors heading to Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen from nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park and Shiga Kogen, it is also likely that you will have reached those destinations via Nagano. However, as you will be approaching Yudanaka and Shibu from a different direction, let’s begin with those points of origin before discussing how to get to there from Nagano and all other locations.
Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen act as the gateway to the Yamanouchi region including the always popular Jigokudani Monkey Park, Shiga Kogen Ski Resort, ski resorts of Kita-Shiga Kogen, Shiga Kogen Highlands and the expansive Joshinetsu Kogen Natoinal Park. Only 45-minutes from train from Nagano Station, the historic hot spring towns offer the perfect escape from the stress and hustle of daily life while opening-up the region’s many great destinations.
Visitors combining their visit to Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen with the monkey park or other destinations including Obuse or Suzaka, might want to consider purchasing a 2-Day Snow Monkey Pass.
WHERE ARE YUDANAKA & SHIBU ONSEN?
Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen are located around 35KM to the north-east of Nagano City – 45-minutes by train or just under an hour by car. They sit around 270KM to the north-west of Tokyo, a 3.5 to 4-hour drive or 3 to 4-hours by train (via Nagano Station). It is worh noting that Yudanaka Onsen and Shibu Onsen are in fact separate hot spring towns located within walking distance of each other. Visitors coming from Nagano by train will arrive at Yudanaka Station, in the centre of Yudanaka Onsen, from where you can walk to any area of the town. Shibu Onsen is located only a couple of minutes drive from the centre of Yudanaka, between 10 to 15-minutes on-foot. Both Yudanaka and Shibu are historic ‘onsen’ (hot spring) towns with histories dating back more than one thousand years. Of the two, Shibu Onsen has retained more of its traditional character with its quaint lane ways full of old buildings and an antiquated charm. Numerous hotels and guesthouses are dotted through the towns, including many excellent ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses), most of which have their own onsen.
The towns are worth enjoying in their own right however most travelers headed their use Yudanaka and Shibu as a base from where to head to the Jigokudani Monkey Park – under 5-minutes drive – along with Shiga Kogen Ski Resort and the smaller resorts of Kita-Shiga Kogen – all around 30-minutes drive. Travelers also take advantage of the town’s close proximity to Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, the lower reaches of which are also only 30-minutes drive away – a journey covered by local bus services. As Japan’s fourth largest national park, Joshinetesu Kogen is a place of four seasons offering visitors endless reasons to visit throughout the year.
HOW TO GET TO YUDANAKA & SHIBU ONSEN
In this section you will find infomration on how to reach Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen ffrom the following starting points:
JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK – SHIGA KOGEN / JOSHINETSU KOGEN NATIONAL PARK – KITA-SHIGA KOGEN – NAGANO CITY – OBUSE – TOKYO – NARITA AIRPORT – HANEDA AIRPORT – KANAZAWA – KARUIZAWA – NAGOYA – TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE – MATSUMOTO – TAKAYAMA – KYOTO & OSAKA
We endeavour to keep this information as up-to-date as possible and in recognition that most international visitors will be using the train network to move around Japan, most directions are for using the trains. If there is alternative option i.e. express or local bus, that is notably faster or economical, we also include that information.
*Please note, the Nagano Dentetsu Railway running to Yudanaka is a private line and is not covered by any JR pass.
FROM THE JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK
To reach Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen from the Jigokudani Monkey Park is straight-forward. Take the Nagaden local bus toward Yudanaka Station and either disembark at Shibu Onsen or continue onto Yudanaka Station. The journey to Shibu Onsen will take around 7 to 10 minutes and cost JPY190 while heading to Yudanaka Station takes 15 minutes and costs JPY310. Alternatively, you can walk from the park – around 25 minutes to Shibu and 45 minutes to Yudanaka.
FROM SHIGA KOGEN / JOSHINETSU KOGEN
Take the local bus – Shiga Kogen Bus line – from Shiga Kogen Yamanoeki Bus Station – to Yudanaka Station and then follow the directions above. Visitors heading to Yudanaka and Shibu from Joshinetsu Kogen National Park should also follow the same directions. There are bus stops located across the resort/national park with the Yamanoeki Bus Station acting as the central transport hub.
FROM KITA-SHIGA SKI RESORTS
Ryuoo Ski Park is the most popular resort in Kita-Shiga Kogen and the only resort in the area to operate a shuttle bus. From around December 19th until March 21st each year, a free shuttle bus runs to-and-from the resort and Yudanaka Station – taking around 25 to 30-minutes. Buses depart from the resort at 10:30, 11:50, 13:30, 14:50, 15:50, 17:30, 18:50, 20:10 and 21:10. To reach all other resorts, you will need to drive yourself or take a taxi.
FROM NAGANO CITY
Nagano City the is the nearest major city to Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen. As such, many if not most international visitors will move to and from the area via Nagano Station. Yudanaka Station is the terminus of the Nagano Dentetsu Line running from Nagano Station. Limited express services from Nagano to Yudanaka take approximately 45 minutes / JPY1290 while local services take 70 to 80 minutes – depending on which train you use – and cost JPY1190. Given the minimal price difference but substantial saving in time, we recommend using limited express services.
To access the Nagaden train platforms at Nagano Station, simply exit the station via the Zenko-ji Exit and proceed down the escalator immediately to your right. Once at the bottom, head to your left and you will soon see the Nagaden ticket window, machines and platforms. Nagaden is a single-track line, making it easy to know which train to board. For full details, please refer to our ‘Nagano Dentetsu Line’ page.
Located around the mid-point on the Nagano Dentetsu Line, getting from Obuse to Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen is easy. Simply take the limited express from Obuse Station bound for Yudanaka – 20 min / JPY710.
Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line either Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Nagano. The journey takes between 90 to 110 minutes (depending on which train you take) and costs between JPY8000-9000 one-way. The Kagayaki and Hakutaka services starting from Tokyo Station are the fastest while the Asama service, which originates at Ueno Station, is slower, stopping at more stations en route to Nagano. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above.
FROM NARITA AIRPORT
Nagano can be reached in a two-stage journey from the airport via Tokyo Station. Two rapid train services connect Narita Airport to central Tokyo:
1 / the Narita Express (NEX) runs from Narita to Tokyo Station. It takes 55 minutes to reach Tokyo Station (depending on the service) and costs JPY3070 with trains departing every 30 to 60 minutes. Once at Tokyo Station, follow the directions above.
2 / the Keisei Skyliner runs from Narita to Ueno Station. It takes between 40 to 55 minutes to reach Ueno Station and costs JPY2520 with trains departing every 30 to 40 minutes. Once at Ueno Station, follow the directions above.
Both Tokyo and Ueno are stops on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line connecting the capital to Nagano. Once in Nagano, follow the directions above.
FROM HANEDA AIRPORT
Nagano can be reached in a two-stage journey from the airport via Tokyo Station. Two train services connect Haneda Airport to central Tokyo:
1 / the Tokyo Monorail connects the airport to Tokyo Station via Hamamatsucho Station in around 30 minutes. From the airport take the monorail to Hamamatsucho Station (20 min/JPY170) and then switch to the JR Yamanote Line or JR Keihin-Tohoku/Negishi Line Rapid bound for Tokyo Station (5 min/JPY160) – a total journey of around 30-minutes / JPY660 one-way. Once at Tokyo Station, follow the directions above to Nagano.
2 / the Keikyu Railway connects the airport to Tokyo Station via Shinagawa Station. Take the Keikyu Airport bound to Shinagawa Station (approx.11 min/JPY300) and transfer to the Yamanote Line bound for Osaki to reach Tokyo Station- 13 min / JPY170 or a total journey of around 30 min / JPY470. Once at Tokyo Station, follow the directions above to Nagano.
Kanazawa is a a popular and historic city on Japan’s north coast and as the northern terminus of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, the journey from Kanazawa Station to Nagano Station and onto Yudanaka is easy. There are four services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – the Kagayaki, Hakutaka, Asama and Tsurugi – however only the Kagayaki and Hakuata services connect Kanazawa and Nagano. Using the Kagayaki, the journey from Kanazawa to Nagano takes 65 minutes / JPY8920 or 85 to 90 minutes / JPY8590 using the Hakutaka. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above. For further details, please refer to our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen’ and ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Timetable’ pages.
Both Nagano Station and Karuizawa Station are stops on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, meaning that getting from one to the other is quick and easy – taking only 30 min / JPY3210. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above onto Yudanaka.
Nagoya is the largest city in central Japan and as such, it’s relatively to get from there to Yudanaka via Nagano. Running from Nagoya Station to Nagano Station – via Matsumoto – the Limited Express Shinano connects two of the region’s major cities. It operates approximately once an hour and makes the journey between Nagano and Nagoya in approximately 3 hours and costs JPY6930. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above.
For further details including daily timetable, please refer to our ‘Limited Express Shinano Line Timetable’ page. The Japan JR Pass covers this service. See below for details.
FROM THE TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE
From Ogizawa Station – on the Nagano-side of the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route – take the Alpico Bus to Nagano Station – approximately 100 minutes journey time. From Tateyama Staiton on the Toyama-side, take the Toyama Chiho Railway to Toyama and transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen at Toyama Station, bound for Nagano. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above.
From Matsumoto Station, take the Shinano Line to Nagano Station. There are many services every day including the Limited Express Shinano – taking around 50 minutes. For the daily train schedule, please refer to our ‘Limited Express Shinano Line Timetable’ page. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above.
There is no direct public transport from Takayama to Nagano, presenting travelers with different options. For those traveling by train, the easiest option is to take the Limited Express Hida from Takayama Station north to Toyama Station – approximately 50 minutes – and follow the directions above. The total journey takes around 2.5 to 3 hours depending on which services you use. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above.
Bus services from Takayama to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama along with Kamikochi make Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen accessible from those destinations. Noting that Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen can also be reached from Kamikochi via Matsumoto, please refer to the destination pages for instructions how to get to both Takayama and Matsumoto.
FROM KYOTO & OSAKA
For visitors coming from Kyoto or Osaka, you have three options to reach Nagano: 1. also take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Tokyo and transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen to reach Nagano Station; 2. take the Limited Express Thunderbird to Kanazawa and transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen heading south to Nagano and Tokyo; or 3. take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya Station and transfer to the Limited Express Shinano bound for Nagano. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above. All routes take 4+ hours with options 2 and 3 being notably cheaper than option 1.
20 THINGS TO DO AROUND YUDANAKA / SHIBU ONSEN & WHERE TO STAY
Within easy reach of Nagano Station, Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen offer convenience, charm and plenty to do in the surrounding areas. Of course it goes without saying that as ‘onsen’ towns, a visit to either is all about enjoying a hot spring and the quaint appeal of traditional service and guesthouses – of which there are plenty. Our ’20 Things to Do Arond Yudanaka / Shibu Onsen & Where to Stay’ page has lots of suggestions of what’s on offer and accommodation in the area.
EXPLORE YAMANOUCHI – HOME OF THE SNOW MONKEYS
The hot spring towns of Yudanaka and Shibu are are located in the wider area of Yamanouchi – an area perhaps best known as the home of Nagano’s famous snow monkeys! The Jigokudani Monkey Park is also lcoated in Yamanouchi along with Japan’s largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen, part of the larger Shiga Kogen Highlands – a UNESCO Biopshere Reserve – and Joshinetsu Kogen Natiaonal Park. When you also consider that Yamanouchi is home to the ski resorts of Kita-Shiga Kogen, abundant farmalnds and of course, lots of hot springs, Yamanouchi is a fantastic all-year-round destination. For more information about what’s on offer, see our ‘Explore Yamanouchi – Home of the Snow Monkeys’ page.
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where and when to go, to help you discover and enjoy the region’s many ski resorts and other fantastic destinations and activities.
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 including from/to Nagano Station and any resort 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 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.
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. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
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 have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about visiting Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen? Contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!