1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano
All Year Round
09:35 - 17:35
Hakuba (winter only)
1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano
Take in some of the highlights of Nagano on this engaging tour with starting with a visit to Zenko-ji – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan – followed by sake-tasting and lunch at a nearby restaurant. It’s then time to head to the Snow Monkey Park and its world-famous hot spring-bathing monkeys! Led by a locally-based English-speaking guide, this tour is a great way to see the best that Nagano has to offer*.
*Named one of Japan’s Top 10 travel experiences by TripAdvisor for 2022!
- Visit the famous Jigokudani Monkey Park and learn all about what makes the resident monkeys so unique
- Explore Zenko-ji, one of Japan’s oldest and most important Buddhist temples, and home to the first known Buddhist statue to be brought to Japan.
- Enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant and experience Nagano’s renowned food culture
- Try ‘sake’ with a tasting and learning experience all led by your guide (non-alcoholic option also available)
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!
Want to join this tour from Hakuba? In winter, we offer pick-up and drop-off at three points in Hakuba – see below for details.
The tour begins at Nagano Station at 09:35 where your guide will meet you and once all guests have arrived, head to Zenko-ji Temple – please note, in winter we also offer pick-up in Hakuba (see below for details). As a registered National Treasure, the temple is the most important cultural site in Nagano and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in the entire country! A place of true historic importance, full of legends and myths, you will be guided around the temple before (time permitting) your guide will give you the opportunity to explore the surrounding precinct of smaller temples, shops, and food by yourself.
Home to a huge number of breweries, Nagano is synonymous with sake and no visit to the region is complete without delving into Japan’s most famous beverage. Your guide will treat you to tasting before, introducing you to the complex world of sake before sitting down to an early lunch! From delicious and warming beef, chicken, or vegetarian hot pot in the winter months, to mixed sushi plates and Nagano-style chicken or seasonal grilled vegetables through spring to autumn, meals are designed to match the season and highlight the best of Nagano’s renowned food culture.
Well-fed it’s time to head-out of Nagano, as you are transported to the Snow Monkey Park. Your guide will take you along the forest trail which leads to the park and into Jigokudani – rather dramatically translating to ‘Hell’s Valley’. Home to the only troop of monkeys in the entire world known to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience.
Your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity. Make sure to bring your camera as you`re going to need it!
Your guide will then accompany back along the trail and soon have you heading back toward Nagano, the perfect time to sit back, relax, and look through all those monkey photos before the tour returns to Nagano Station and concludes at 17:35 and between 18:30 to 18:45 for guests joining from Hakuba ‐ winter only.
|07:40||**WINTER ONLY** HAKUBA PICKUP: first pickup at Hakuba Tokyu Hotel before the second pickup at the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 07:55 and third pickup at Echoland Hakuba Base Camp at 08:05. From there the bus heads toward Nagano City and the main pickup point|
|09:35||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 temple (additional pickup point is available at Patio Daimon in Nagano City at 09:55 upon request).|
|10:00||Arrive at Zenko-ji and explore the precinct with your guide followed by (time-permitting) 25-30 minutes of free time|
|11:30||Enjoy a guided sake tasting before sitting down to lunch at Monzen Terrace Enya.|
|13:00||Depart Nagano and head toward the Snow Monkey Park.|
|14:00||Arrive nearby the Snow Monkey Park area. Prepare and walk along the forest trail (25-30 minutes) into the park.|
|14:40||Arrive at the park and enjoy watching the wild macaques bathing in the onsen and going about their lives.|
|15:40||Depart the park and walk back out along the forest trail.|
|16:20||Leave the Snow Monkey Park area and begin your return journey to Nagano.|
|17:35|| 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 – with the option of pickup at Hotel Kokusai 21 and Patio Daimon – throughout the year with the option of joining from Hakuba only in winter, from December to March (see below for details):
1 / HOTEL KOKUSAI 21 @ 09:10 — All Year Round
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 – as the guide will not have time to wait or have reception call you room – and look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag. The tour cannot wait and will need to depart on-time.
2 / NAGANO STATION @ 09:35 — 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 09:40.
3 / PATIO DAIMON / ZENKO-JI AREA @ 09:55 — All Year Round
The meetup point is outside of the restaurant called ‘Monzen Terrace Enya’. Please stand on the wooden decking / outdoor seating area directly in front of the restaurant and be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag. Please also ensure you are there prior to the meetup time as the tour will need to depart by 10:00.
The following three meetup points in Hakuba are only available in winter from December to March. 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 @ 07:40 — 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 @ 07:55 — 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.
3 / ECHOLAND BASE CAMP HAKUBA @ 08:05 — Winter Only
The final pickup point is Hakuba Base Camp Echoland. Please wait at the main building. 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.
- Transportation fee from Nagano to the Snow Monkey Park and between activities / attractions
- Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
- Lunch (vegetarian options are available)
- Guided tour at Zenko-ji, ‘sake’-tasting and at the monkey park
- English-speaking guide
- Additional food, snacks & drinks
- Optional entrance fee to the inner sanctuary of Zenko-ji Temple
- Shinkansen / ‘Bullet Train’ tickets
- There will be a significant amount of walking required (1.6 km one way) to get to and from the Snow Monkey Park, along an unsealed forest trail so please wear appropriate shoes/boots.
- This tour is not wheelchair accessible and may not be suitable for mobility-impaired travellers. 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.
- From mid-December until early-April the trail and park are likely to be affected by snow and ice. Please ensure that you are wearing suitable shoes/boots and warm clothing. If required, rental boots are available close to the monkey park and crampons (metal spikes that attach underneath your shoes/boots) can also be purchased. From mid-December until early-March please wear suitable clothing for temperatures potentially below 0°C (and as low as -10°C).
- During the winter it is common to see the monkeys enjoying the hot spring however from spring up to autumn there will be times where the monkeys play or eat in the water, however please note that the monkeys are wild animals and there is no guarantee that there will be monkeys in the bath.
- There are a few days in the year that the monkeys might not come down to the park.
- *Winter only* Guests in Hakuba can join this tour using our shuttle service from / to Hakuba Tokyu Hotel in Wadano, Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal and Hakuba Base Camp in Echoland. This service is only available from 2021/12/15 until 2022/03/31 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.
- This tour includes lunch at Monzen Terrace Enya. On rare occasions it may not be possible to use this restaurant in which case we would switch to another, comparable location. Please note that the restaurant may change their menu from time-to-time and the tour lunch may different to images shown on this page.
- This tour includes ‘sake’ tasting in Nagano City. The venue can change depending on the time of year. You must be a minimum of 20 years of age to consume alcohol on the tour.
- Infants (0-5) are free of charge. An infant lunch is not included and the order will be made directly to the restaurant according to your needs. We also cannot guarantee that a seat on the tour transport will be available for infants and they may be required to sit in the lap of an adult, especially during winter i.e. from December to March.
- Booking cut-off time is an hour before the pick up time on the day.
TRIPADVISOR TRAVELERS’ CHOICE ‘BEST OF THE BEST’ AWARD: TOUR NAMED ONE OF JAPAN’S TOP 10 TRAVEL EXPERIENCES FOR 2022
We are happy to announce that our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour has again been recognized as one of the Top 10 travel experiences in Japan having received a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice ‘Best of the Best 2022’ award. We would like to thank all guests who joined the tour in the past year including those who took the time to provide a review. Travelers’ Choice Award winners are determined based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travellers worldwide, with multiple categories including the coveted Top Experiences in Japan announced this week. Snow Monkey Resorts is honoured to be recognised among Japan’s best tour providers based on the bookings and reviews provided by our guests via TripAdvisor.
- I'd like to join this tour from Tokyo. Which Shinkansen / 'Bullet Train' service should I use to arrive in Nagano on time? What time do services depart for Tokyo after the tour?
- 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: 07:20 – Nagano: 08:42 – Kagayaki – reserved seats only
Tokyo: 07:24 – Nagano: 09:13 – Asama
Tokyo: 07:52 – Nagano: 09:30 – Hakutaka*
*Nagano Station is a small station and our morning meet-up point is directly opposite the shinkansen/bullet train tickets gates at 09:35. Therefore you can take the 07:52 – 09:30 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
- 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.
- I have specific dietary requirements. Can these be catered for?
- Yes. This tour typically uses Monzen Terrace Enya in Nagano City as our lunch restaurant (noting that we may occasionally need to use another). Enya can cater to dietary requirements including pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and allergies. We would appreciate if you can let us know in advance by entering that information in the booking form. Please note that some dietary restrictions may require the restaurant to prepare a different lunch to the typical tour meal.
- Is this tour wheelchair accessible or suitable for mobility-impaired guests?
- Unfortunately, this tour is not wheelchair accessible and may not be suitable for mobility-impaired guests. The tour requires a significant amount of walking – suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness – including along a 1.6km/1-mile forest trail leading to and from the park. The trail is unsealed and in winter will be affected by snow and ice in winter, meaning that a wheelchair cannot move along it. There is also a relatively steep staircase at the end of the trail leading into the park. Guests who are mobility-impaired may also struggle with the conditions. Should you have any concerns about your ability to join the tour, please contact us prior to booking 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
09:35 - 17:35
Hakuba (winter only)