1-Day Samurai Food & Life Tour: Oyaki, Samurai Residences, and Katana Practice
All Year Round
Hakuba (winter only)
1-Day Samurai Food & Life Tour: Oyaki, Samurai Residences, and Katana Practice
Experience a day in the life of a samurai, as this tour explores Nagano’s unique samurai past in historic town of Matsushiro, including visits to some of Japan’s best-preserved samurai residences and hands-on experiences cooking local specialty “oyaki” and katana practice at an Edo Period military school. All led by a locally-based guide, this engaging tour is available throughout the year and offers real insight through firsthand experience of Nagano’s samurai heritage
- Immerse yourself in the samurai life and create your own simple samurai lunch of various “oyaki”
- Discover Nagano’s hidden samurai enclave of Matsushiro – former stronghold of the legendary Sanada clan – and home to some of Japan’s best-preserved Edo Period buildings including the former Sanada and Higuchi Residences
- Participate in samurai ‘katana’ (sword) practice and other period activities at the Bunbu Gakko Military Arts School of Matsushiro
- All led by a locally-based, English-speaking guide, with additional guidance from local samurai historians and “oyaki” experts.
Want to join this tour from Tokyo? It’s easy to do! Scroll to the bottom for our FAQs including train services that you can use to join the tour!
The tour begins from Hakuba or Nagano, where your guide will greet you before leading you to the day’s method of transportation and onward to the first stop: making your own simple lunch at Irohado Oyaki Farm.
A local Nagano food with thousands of years of history, “oyaki” is a twice baked dumpling with various different fillings and was certainly a staple food of all Nagano samurai of old, and remains a wildly popular food in Nagano Prefecture today. Local experts will impart their wisdom and guide you in making, boiling, and baking your own “oyaki” with the traditional fillings of local Nozawa vegetable and anko bean paste. Once baked to perfection, we will enjoy this simple lunch from the roof of their facility in the crisp air with Nagano mountain scenery. From vegetables and fruits to sweet beans and nuts, various other “oyaki” options are available at the counter and their delectable and unique tastes will leave you wanting more.
After your satisfying lunch, you will continue your journey onward to central Matsushiro to delve deeper into the rich samurai history of the area. As the former stronghold of the legendary Sanada clan, Matsushiro was established an important strategic base during the ‘Sengoku Jidai’ / Warring States Period and thriving domain of the samurai class during the latter Edo Period. Largely undiscovered by international visitors, Matsushiro is home to some of the best-preserved samurai residences and other Edo Period buildings in Japan.
Arriving in Matsushiro at 12:45, you will walk the short distance to the Sanada Family Residence. Built by Sanada Yukinori in 1864, this beautiful and elaborate building consists of fifty-three rooms and extensive surrounding gardens. The estate originally served as residence to Sanada’s mother-in-law before he resided there upon his retirement.
Your guide will accompany you around the residence, introducing the history of the Sanada clan before moving onto the nearby Higuchi Family Residence. One of Matsushiro’s best-preserved samurai residences, the former Higuchi Family Residence offers yet more insight into the life and daily routine of the samurai class.
From there it’s onto the Bunbu Gakko Literary & Military Arts School, where sons of high-ranking samurai families studied during the Edo Period. Arriving around 14:00, your guide will introduce you to the history of the school before you can get hands-on, with ‘katana’ (sword) practice led by local instructor who will lead you through a series of maneuvers including attack and defense. Suitable for both children and adults, you’ll then have the chance to put on imitation samurai armor – a fun and engaging way to learn all about Nagano’s samurai past. You’ll then board the day’s transportation once more accompanied back to Nagano Station by your guide to say your goodbyes after a fulfilling day.
|**WINTER ONLY** HAKUBA PICKUP: first pickup at Hakuba Tokyu Hotel before the second pickup at the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 08:50. From there the bus heads toward Nagano City and the main pickup point.
|The main meetup point is inside Nagano Station, in front of the large Information Board and city map directly across from the Shinkansen ticket gates. Your guide will greet the guests and begin the tour by heading to the Oyaki Farm by Irohado.
|Begin crafting your simple "oyaki" lunch, with experts guiding you every step of the way including an explanation of oyaki's cultural importance and Nagano and a tour of the facility.
|Enjoy the fruits of your labor by enjoying your "oyaki" for lunch on the roof of the facility surrounded by the crisp Nagano air and mountain scenery.
More "oyaki" are available separately a the counter for individual purchase for your enjoyment.
|Board transport once more to travel toward Matsushiro Town's center to delve deeper into the samurai lifestyle.
|Arrive in Matsushiro and enjoy approximately 4 hours exploring the historic samurai enclave including visits to the former Sanada Residence, the former Higuchi Residence and Bunbu Gakko Military Arts School inc. samurai experience. Following your time in Matsushiro, your guide will accompany you back to Nagano Station on the 16:30 bus before walking to the temple and your accommodation.
|Tour concludes at Nagano Station, where the guide will say their goodbyes (guests returning to Hakuba will then be shuttled back to Hakuba with an estimated arrival time of 18:30-18:45)*.
*While we expect to have all tours conclude on time, we cannot guarantee this in winter due to weather and road conditions. Please refer to our 'Other Information' when making bookings for onward travel.
This tour operates to and from Nagano Station throughout the year with the option of joining from Hakuba only in winter, from December to March (see below for details):
1 / NAGANO STATION @ 10:30 — MAIN MEETUP POINT — All Year Round
The meetup point is inside the station, in front of the Information Board directly across from the Shinkansen ticket gates. Be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag and ensure you are there prior to the meetup time as the tour will need to depart by 10:30.
Please note, when operating in winter the Hakuba pick-ups are before the pick-ups in Nagano and drop-off will be later:
1 / HAKUBA TOKYU HOTEL, WADANO @ 08:35 — Winter Only
Please wait at the entrance of the hotel lobby. This is a group tour with multiple pickup points to follow. Please ensure you are at the hotel entrance prior to the meeting time and look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag. The tour cannot wait and will need to depart on-time.
2 / HAKUBA HAPPO BUS TERMINAL @ 08:50 — Winter Only
Please wait inside the bus terminal and stay warm. Several tours operate from the bus terminal be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag and confirm that you’re joining the correct tour. Please ensure you are at the terminal before the meeting time. The tour cannot wait and will need to depart on-time.
*For guests who joined the tour in Hakuba, the bus will then shuttle you back to the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal where your day is scheduled to conclude around 18:30. Due to weather and road conditions in winter, we cannot guarantee the end time of tours. For guests who want to book onward travel including train tickets during winter, please refer to ‘Other Information’ below for our recommendations.
- Guided “oyaki” making experience with two different “oyaki” of nozawa-na and anko fillings included.
- Paid entry to the former Sanada Residence, former Higuchi Residence and Bunbu Gakko Literary & Military Arts School inc. samurai experience in Matsushiro
- Transport costs to all listed destinations / activities and English-speaking guide
- Transport fees inc. Shinkansen / ‘Bullet Train’ to / from Nagano Station
- Any additional “oyaki”
- Additional food, snacks & drinks
- This tour includes a lunch simple lunch of “oyaki” which uses dough, nozawana vegetables, and anko bean paste as filling. Please take this into account when booking the tour, as allergies may prevent you from participating in a large part of the tour or eating lunch.
- This tour is not wheelchair accessible and may not be suitable for mobility-impaired travelers. Should you have any concerns about your ability to join the tour, please contact us to discuss prior to booking.
- This tour uses different forms of transport. Tours can be conducted by microbus, larger coach or train depending on the season and size of the group.
- The samurai experience is appropriate for both adults and children aged 6 and up. For the safety of guests, you will not handle real swords but instead be allocated bamboo imitations.
- *Winter only* Guests in Hakuba can join this tour using our shuttle service from / to Hakuba Tokyu Hotel in Wadano and Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal. This service is only available from 2023/12/17 until 2024/03/31 and may not be available every day between those dates. We apologise that bookings from / to Hakuba cannot be accepted outside of these dates. When using this shuttle service please note that your guide will join and depart the tour at Nagano Station.
- *Winter only* This tour is scheduled to conclude at Nagano Station by 17:30 (and by 18:45 for guests joining from Hakuba in winter). However, due to weather and road conditions in winter we cannot guarantee the end time. For guests booking shinkansen tickets to travel to Tokyo after the tour in winter, we ask that you do not book any service earlier than the 17:56 Kagayaki (reservation only) or our recommendation of the 18:23 Hakutaka. For guests booking onward tickets to other destinations we also recommend doing so for times of 18:00 or later.
- I’d like to join this tour from Tokyo. Which Shinkansen / Bullet Train service should I use to arrive in Nagano on time?
- The start and finish times of this tour are arranged according to the Shinkansen timetable. You can book the following services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line when joining this tour at Nagano Station:
Departing Tokyo Station - Arriving Nagano Station
Tokyo: 07:52 – Nagano: 09:30 – Hakutaka
Tokyo: 08:36 – Nagano: 09:56 – Kagayaki – reserved seats only
Tokyo: 08:44 – Nagano: 10:17 – Hakutaka*
*Nagano Station is a small station and our morning meet-up point is directly opposite the shinkansen/bullet train tickets gates at 10:30. Therefore you can take the 08:44 – 10:17 train service however please ensure you come straight to the meeting point after your train arrives.
Departing Nagano Station - Arriving Tokyo Station
Nagano: 17:56 – Tokyo: 19:20 – Kagayaki – reserved seats only
Nagano: 18:23 – Tokyo: 20:00 – Hakutaka*
*In winter, we recommend that you book this service to return to Tokyo. While we expect to this tour to conclude at JR Nagano Station by 17:30 winter weather and roads conditions mean that we cannot guarantee it. To be safe, we recommend booking the 18:22 service.
Also, if you are staying in Myoko Kogen and would like to join the tour, you can take a train from Myoko Kogen Station and get to Nagano Station on time (830 JPY / one way).
Departing Myoko Kogen Station – Arriving Nagano Station
Myoko Kogen: 7:48 – Nagano: 8:32
Myoko Kogen: 8:39 – Nagano: 9:23
Departing Nagano Station – Arriving Myoko Kogen Station
Nagano: 18:14 – Myoko Kogen: 19:00
- I use a wheelchair / am mobility-impaired. Can I join this tour?
- This tour is not wheelchair accessible and may not be suitable for mobility-impaired travelers. It requires a reasonable amount of walking and as a traditional ‘shukubo’, the accommodation is not wheelchair accessible. We apoloogise for that. Should you have any concerns about your ability to join the tour, please contact us at to discuss.
- I am vegetarian / vegan and / or have specific dietary needs / allergies. Can these be catered for?
- The lunch at the Oyaki Farm will include "oyaki" that are made with dough made with a mixture of wheat and buckwheat flour and other inserts such as vegetables, beans, fruits, or nuts. Please be aware when you order at the counter according to your own dietary needs and restrictions.
- How does the winter-only Hakuba shuttle service work?
- Due to the popularity of this tour, we will be operating a winter-only shuttle service from and to Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal between Dec.15th and Mar.31st. This service is provided at no additional charge. If you would like to join the tour from Hakuba simply choose that option from the calendar menu. If you choose this option, our staff will meet you at the meeting point in Hakuba and have you board the shuttle service to JR Nagano Station. The tour itself operates from and to JR Nagano Station and on most occasions, the guide will join and leave the tour at that point.
- Can I start in Hakuba and leave the tour in Nagano / start in Nagano and end in Hakuba?
- Yes. We are happy to provide this service for you. Just select the relevant options and please explain your preference in the Special Requirements field of the booking page.
- Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?
- Yes. We can add accommodation in Nagano City, Yamanouchi/Snow Monkey area, and (in winter) also in the Hakuba village area. To do so, contact us at anytime to discuss options.
(Travel Agency License No: Nagano 2-562)
Snow Monkey Resorts Tours
Nagano City Kurita 1015-7, NK Copo 202, Nagano, 380-0921 Japan
Member of All Nippon Travel Agents Association
Travel Service Supervisor: Tomoko Kasahara
All Year Round
Hakuba (winter only)