1-Day Tour From Hakuba & Nagano: Nozawa Fire Festival & Snow Monkeys
11:30/13:00 - 23:45/01:00
1-Day Tour From Hakuba & Nagano: Nozawa Fire Festival & Snow Monkeys
In the midst Nagano’s cold white winter, there is one festival that is sure to set things alight and burn bright into the night! The Nozawa Onsen ‘Dosojin Matsuri’ is one of Japan’s three great fire festivals, taking place every January in the popular ski resort village. This tour takes to you to and from Nozawa Onsen to enjoy one of the Nagano’s most popular festivals in combination with an earlier visit to the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and early dinner to energize for the festivities to come! Including alternate pick-up points in Hakuba and Nagano City, this tour will long in the memory, long after the fire has burnt away!
- Witness the festivities (and craziness) of one of Japan’s most famous fire festivals – the Nozawa Onsen ‘Dosojin Matsuri’ – and enjoy exploring the popular and lively ski resort village at night
- Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and meet the only monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs
- Enjoy an early dinner at a local restaurant nearby the park and get set for the festival
- With alternative pick-up and drop-off points in Hakuba and Nagano
Want to join this tour from Tokyo? It’s easy to do! Scroll to the bottom for our FAQs including train services that can you use to join the tour!
Want to join this tour from Hakuba? No problem at all! Lot’s of guests do just that – see below for details.
The tour begins with pick-up at three points in Hakuba between 11:30 and 11:55 followed by Nagano Station at 13:00. Your guide will greet you and quickly have you board the tour bus to begin your journey toward the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Arriving nearby the park at approximately 14:15, your guide will lead you along the snow-covered forest trail (1.6km/1 mile) and introduce you to the only troop of monkeys in the world knowns to bathe in ‘onsen’ (natural hot springs). With no barriers between you and the monkeys, you can observe them in close proximity as they go about their lives in the deep snow and cold of winter; which of course in winter involves a lot of soaking in the hot spring!
Your visit to the park is followed by an early dinner – your choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian hotpot along with starters and a dessert*. While there, your guide will explain about the festival – its meaning, history, and some helpful tips – to make sure you get the most out of your time in Nozawa Onsen.
Boarding the tour bus it’s time to make the journey to Nozawa to witness one of Japan’s three great fire festivals! Arriving at approximately 18:20, your guide will help you get your bearings by setting a meet-up place and time, and then walking all tours guests to the festival grounds to show where the main festivities will take place, pointing-out the best places to watch from. From that point, the evening is yours to explore the lively village!
As one of Nagano’s most popular ski resorts, Nozawa is always lively with several public hot springs (and we mean, hot!) and foot baths to use for free. The atmosphere in the town is cheerful, with most villagers having imbibed their fair share of ‘sake’ to purify themselves in readiness for the festival! Preparations start at 19:00, with singing, drumming, fireworks and more. Then it’s time for the main event! The town converges on a wooden shrine, defended by men the ages of 25 and 42, said to be in unlucky years and therefore the charged with the shrines defence from the other villagers, who storm the structure with flaming bales of hay intent on its destruction.
Fueled by tradition, bravado, and booze, the battle takes place with embers falling over the crowd and very little distinguishing onlookers from participants.
After finally, after the gods have been deemed happy and ready to bless the villagers with good luck, harvest, and happiness in the year to come, the shrine is set alight. With festivities winding-down around 20:15, you meet-up with your guide and board the tour bus at depart Nozawa at 22:45. Feel free to fall asleep as we transport you back to your preferred drop-off point of Nagano Station at 23:45 or Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal between 01:00 and 01:15*, where the tour concludes.
*Please note, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, we cannot yet confirm which restaurant we will use or the exact meal that will be served. Once those details have been confirmed, we will update this page accordingly.
This tour operates to and from Hakuba and Nagano and include the following pick-up and drop-off points:
1 / HAKUBA TOKYU HOTEL, WADANO @ 11:30
Please wait at the entrance of the hotel lobby. This is a group tour with multiple pickup points to follow. The tour guide will not have time to wait for you or have reception call your room. 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 by 11:35.
2 / HAKUBA HAPPO BUS TERMINAL @ 11:45
Please wait inside the bus terminal and sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag. Please be waiting before the meetup time as the tour will depart by 11:50.
3 / ECHOLAND BASE CAMP HAKUBA @ 11:55
The third 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 by 12:00.
4 / NAGANO STATION @ 13:00
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. Please ensure you are there prior to the meetup time as the tour will need to depart by 13:05.
*Arrival times are our best estimate but can be affected by road conditions and crowd numbers at the festival during winter. We ask that all guests cooperate with their guide in coming to the meetup points on time, to avoid unnecessary delays and inconvenience to other guests. For guests who joined the tour in Hakuba, after drop-off at Nagano Station around 11:45 the bus will return you to your select drop-off point in Hakuba where your day is scheduled to conclude around 01:00. Due to weather and road conditions in winter, we cannot guarantee the end time of tours.
|11:30||Pick-up at Tokyu Hotel Hakuba followed by Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 11:45 and Hakuba Base Camp Echoland at 11:55.|
|13:00||Pick-up at the Nagano Station Information Board across from the Shinkansen exit gates.|
|14:15||Arrive at the trail entrance to the Snow Monkey Park, from where you'll start walking for 30 minutes to the park, arriving at the park itself around 14:45.|
|15:45||Leave the snow-covered Snow Monkey Park and make your way back along the forest trail to get back to the tour vehicle.|
|16:30||Enjoy an early dinner to refuel yourself for the night to come before departing around 17:20.|
|18:20||Arrival at Nozawa Onsen. Enjoy free time to explore the hot spring village.|
|19:00||The preparations for the fire festival start with the bringing of the fire, the singing of songs, drumming, fireworks, and more.|
|20:00||The battle begins! The unluckily-aged defenders do their best to stop the attackers coming at them with a barrage of fire.|
|22:00||End of the festival! The shrine is set alight. Meet with your guide at the meeting point at 22:45 and leave for Nagano and Hakuba.|
|23:45||Arrival at Nagano Station followed by arrival in Hakuba and drop-off at each pickup point around 01:00.|
- Transportation fee from and back to Hakuba and Nagano Station to the Snow Monkey Park and between activities / attractions
- Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
- Early dinner (vegetarian options are available)
- English-speaking guide
- Other food, snacks & drinks
- Shinkansen / ‘Bullet Train’ tickets
- This tour includes a significant amount of walking and most areas including the forest trail leading to the monkey park, the park itself and streets of Nozawa Onsen are likely to be affected by snow and ice. Walking around Nozawa during the festival can be especially slippery so please ensure you wear good quality shoes or boots. If you have snowboots and / or crampons, we recommend you bring them.
- It will be cold in January in Nagano with likely snowfall and temperatures of 0°C and below. The cold is especially apparent at night so please wear warm clothes and shoes fit for winter. Please also note that burning cinders may be floating in the air during the festival and clothes can be damaged.
- 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 is a popular and crowded festival. It will not be possible for your guide to be with you at all times and there is no reserved seating/observation area. Please ensure that you watch the festivities from a safe distance/location and follow the festival rules, as instructed by your guide.
- This is a family-friendly cultural tour, not a drinking tour. Consumption of alcohol is not allowed on the tour bus and we request that guests do not become intoxicated at the festival. Guests who are intoxicated can be refused carriage on the tour bus.
- This tour includes an early dinner at a restaurant nearby the monkey park. Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, we might be unable to confirm the exact restaurant and meal until soon before the tour.
- For those joining the tour from Nagano Station, arrival back to Nagano Station will be around midnight so our recommendation is to stay overnight at Nagano City. Shinkansen / Bullet Train services will have ended by the time the tour returns to the station.
- Drop-off in Hakuba will be at the three designated meetup points between 01:00 and 01:15 in the morning. We are unable to drop guests directly at their accommodation (other than guests staying at Tokyu Hotel, Wadano – one of the three designated meetup point).
- The tour application deadline is 2 days before the tour date at 17:00.
- I’d like to join this tour from Tokyo? Which Shinkansen / Bullet Train service should I ride to arrive at Nagano Station on time?
The start time of the tour is arranged according to the Shinkansen timetable. You can book the following services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line when joining this tour at Nagano Station. Please note, the drop-off time back at Nagano Station is after all Shinkansen services have ended for the day meaning you will need to arrange accommodation nearby the station or in Hakuba or Nozawa:
Departing Tokyo Station – Arriving Nagano Station:
Tokyo: 10:48 – Nagano: 12:15 – Kagayaki (reserved seats only) *
Tokyo: 11:04 – Nagano: 12:48 – Asama
Tokyo: 11:24 – Nagano: 12:52 – Hakutaka
- What should I wear on the the day of the tour?
January is the coldest month in Nagano and it is likely to be snowing. The forest trail leading to the monkey park, the park itself and the streets of Nozawa Onsen will almost certainly be affected by snow and ice, and conditions can be especially slippery at night. Please ensure you are warmly dressed and prepared for temperatures of 0°C and below, and are wearing good quality shoes or boots. If you have snow boots and/or crampons, it’s a good idea to bring them with you.
- 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 Hakuba or Nagano City. Due to demand for accommodation during the festival, it is unlikely that we can arrange accommodation for you there unless you book well in advance. To do so, contact us at any time to discuss options.
- I have accommodation at a Hakuba district other than Happo (i.e. Goryu, Wadano). I’d like to ask for a drop-off point closer to my accommodation. Is this possible?
No. Given the likely size of the tour / number of guests and our late return to Hakuba between 01:00 to 01:15 in the morning, we can only provide drop-off at the three location listed above. If your accommodation is not within easy walking distance of your chosen pick-up / drop-off point, we recommend arranging a taxi through your guesthouse meet once you arrive back in Hakuba.
- I have specific dietary requirements. Can these be catered for?
Yes. This tour use Hotaru-tei 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to booking to discuss options.
- Is this tour family-friendly?
Yes. We receive many bookings from families including children and are happy to have you join us on the tour. Your guide will endeavour to create a comfortable atmosphere for all guests and we do not allow drinking of alcohol on the tour bus in order to ensure the tour is enjoyed by all guests. Please note, this is a long tour – especially for guests starting and finishing in Hakuba – so please consider whether it is suitable for young children.
- Can I drink alcohol on this tour?
Due to regulations of the bus company and to ensure the comfort of all guests on the tour, we do not allow alcohol to be brought onto or consumed on the tour bus. Alcohol is available at dinner and the festival. We ask that guests do not overdo it and follow the rules of the festival. Any guest found to be intoxicated and/or infringing on the comfort and enjoyment of other guests, or if the guide has reason to suspect a guest will do so if permitted on the bus, then that guest will be asked to leave the tour and not allowed onto the bus. This is cultural tour, not a drinking tour.
- What happens at the festival? Will I be guided/expected to stay with the guide for the entire time?
While at Nozawa Onsen for the festival, the time is yours to enjoy. Upon arrival your guide will help you get your bearings of the town, accompany you to the main festival grounds and setup a meetup time and point. They will then leave you to enjoy the festival for yourself. Should you wish to stay with the guide, they will be happy to show you around town a little but given the crowds and boisterous activity of the festival, it’s an experience best-enjoyed by exploring for yourself. This is a long tour so we also ask you allow your guide some time to themselves to enjoy the night but of course, they’ll always be happy to help!
(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
11:30/13:00 - 23:45/01:00