1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Zenko-ji Tomyo Lantern Festival
10:45/12:15 - 19:50/21:00
1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Zenko-ji Tomyo Lantern Festival
Combining a visit to Nagano’s world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and evening exploration of the Zenko-ji Tomyo Lantern Festival, this enjoyable tour marks the midpoint of winter and illuminates Nagano’s ancient heart! Including an early dinner at Monzen Terrace Enya, this tour brings warmth and light into the midst of winter.
- Visit the world-famous hot spring-bathing Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani and enjoy observing these curious creatures in their winter playground
- Warm yourself on some of Nagano’s best ‘sake’ with a guided tasting followed by early dinner at Monzen Terrace Enya
- Explore Zenko-ji – a registered National Treasure – at night, awash with the ‘Buddha’s Light’, light installations and ‘kiri-re’ paper lanterns
- Including pickup in both Hakuba and Nagano and led by an English-speaking guide
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!
This tour includes pickup at three points in Hakuba between 10:45 and 11:10 followed by Nagano Station at 12:15. Your guide will greet you at your chosen pick-up point, have you board the tour vehicle and on your way to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Arriving nearby the park at 13:15, your guide will lead you to the trail entrance and then along the forest trail into the park.
Home to the only troop of monkeys in the world known naturally to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience. In the deep snow of winter, the monkeys like nothing more than a long, warming soak in the hot spring. Your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity.
In the deep snow of winter, the monkeys like nothing more than a long, warming soak in the hot spring. Your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity. Walking back out along the forest trail, you will then be transported back to Nagano City. As the evening takes hold, your guide will walk you to the temple precinct, where you will first enjoy a warming ‘sake’ tasting before heading to an early-dinner at Monzen Terrace Enya.
You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your meal and get warm before heading to the nearby temple, where you guide will introduce you to the near-1400 year history of Zenko-ji before allowing you time to explore for yourself and enjoy the temple’s Tomyo Lantern Festival.
For one week each February, the temple and nearby precinct emerge from the dark evening in vivid colors. The word ‘tomyo’ means to offer light to the Buddha and by illuminating the temple in splendid colors, the people of Nagano do just that. The festival also celebrates Nagano’s role as host of the Winter Olympics in February 1998.
Your guide will lead you along the ‘Omotesando’ (Pilgrims Road) and ‘Nakamise’ (shopping street) toward the temple. Cluttered with countless ‘kiri-e’ paper lanterns this is a beautiful stroll and builds anticipation for the temple and surrounding historic precinct. ‘Shukubo’ (traditional temple lodgings) in the streets around the temple also come to light, as their courtyards exhibit light installations – an Instagramers delight!
Following the festival, your guide will have you board the tour bus and head to Nagano Station with drop-off around 19:50 followed by drop-offs in Hakuba between 21:00 to 21:00, bringing the tour to a close*.
*For guests who join the tour in Hakuba, after drop-off at Nagano Station, the bus will return you to Hakuba where your day is scheduled to conclude around 21:00 to 21:10. Due to weather and road conditions in winter, we cannot guarantee the end time of tours. For guests want to book onward travel including train tickets during winter, please refer to Other Information for our recommendations.
|10:45/11:10||The tour begins with pickup at Hakuba Tokyu Hotel at 10:45 followed by Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 11:00 and Hakuba Base Camp Echoland at 11:10. From there it's onto Nagano.|
|12:15||The final pick-up is at Nagano Station from where you will head directly to the Kanbayashi Onsen - home of Jigokudani Monkey Park.|
|13:15||Arrive at Kanbayashi Onsen and walk along the 1.6km / 1 mile forest trail into the monkey park.|
|14:00||Arrive at the park and enjoy observing the monkeys in close proximity.|
|15:00||Depart the park and walk back out along the trail and board the tour bus around 15:45 to head back to Nagano.|
|16:30||Enjoy a guided 'sake' tasting (including non-alcoholic options) along with local 'miso' and other tasty treats at Yoshinoya Brewery before heading to dinner.|
|17:00||Arrive at Monzen Terrace Enya and enjoy a warming winter meal - your choice of beef, chicken or vegetable hot pot plus starters, dessert and drinks.|
|18:00-18:10||Head to the temple to enjoy the Tomyo Lantern Festival. Your guide will introduce you to the history and story of the temple before allowing you plenty of time to explore for yourself.|
|19:40||Meetup with your guide and board the tour bus.|
|19:50/21:00||First drop-off at Nagano Station at 19:50 - please note, the guide will also say their goodbyes at this point - followed by drop-offs in Hakuba between 21:00 and 21:10.|
This tour operates from three points in Hakuba along with Nagano Station, with the following meetup points:
1 / HAKUBA TOKYU HOTEL, WADANO @ 10:45
Please wait at the entrance of the hotel lobby. This is a group tour with multiple pickup points to follow. Your guide will not have time to look for you or ask reception to 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 by 10:50.
2 / HAKUBA HAPPO BUS TERMINAL @ 11:00
Please wait inside the bus terminal and be 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 11:05.
3 / ECHOLAND BASE CAMP HAKUBA @ 11:10
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 11:15.
4 / NAGANO STATION @ 12:15
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 12:20.
- Transport from / to Hakuba, Nagano Station and all listed activities / attractions
- Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
- Dinner (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
- English-speaking guide including guided night tour of Zenko-ji
- Sake-tasting (non-alcoholic options available)
- Shinkansen / ‘Bullet Train’ tickets
- Lunch & additional food, snacks & drinks
- Accommodation (unless requested)
- Please wear suitable shoes for the walking trail and suitable clothing for temperatures potentially below 0°C (and as low as -10°C). In winter, the trail leading to the park and park itself 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.
- This tour includes a large amount of walking and spends most of the day outside, where it will be cold. Due to these conditions, it is not wheelchair accessible and it may not be suitable for guests who are mobility impaired and cannot walk for 40 to 60-minutes at a time. Please note, in the monkey park there are few places to sit meaning that guests will be on their feet for around 2 hours by the time they walk in and out of the park. If you have any concerns about this, including your ability to join the tour, please contact us to discuss prior to booking.
- During the winter it is common to see the Snow Monkeys enjoying the hot spring bath, 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. In such case we will provide an alternative activity.
- The transport used for this tour depends on the size of the tour group. For smaller tour groups, we will use the Nagaden Snow Monkey Express Bus service from Nagano Station and return using the Nagaden limited express service on the Nagaden Railway. For large groups, we may arrange our own transport i.e. small tour bus, from/to Nagano Station and all listed destinations.
- This tour includes dinner at Monzen Terrace Enya. The restaurant will update their menu each year meaning that the exact meal will vary however include the same number and types of dishes. We will keep this information and images up-to-date as the restaurant confirms their menu with us.
- Due to time constraints and in order to time our arrival for the evening illumination, this tour does not include lunch. Please make sure to have an early lunch or bring something to snack on during the day. There will also be an opportunity to buy a snack and / or drinks after exiting the monkey park and re-boarding the tour bus.
- 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.
- The light installations at the festival change each year and may not be the same as those shown in images above.
- The tour application deadline is 1 day before the tour date at 17:00.
- 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 of the 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: 10:32 – Nagano: 12:07 – Hakutaka
Tokyo: 11:04 – Nagano: 12:48 – Asama
Tokyo: 11:24 – Nagano: 12:52 – Hakutaka*
*You can take the 11:24–11:52 train since Nagano Station isn’t big and the tour meet-up point is immediately across from the shinkansen ticket gates. If you intend to use that service, please ensure that you come straight to the meetup point upon arrival at Nagano Station, as the guide/tour cannot wait for long.
Departing Nagano Station – Arriving Tokyo Station
Nagano: 21:15 – Tokyo: 23:00 – Asama*
Nagano: 21:46 – Tokyo: 23:24 – Hakutaka
*We recommend booking the 21:15 service if you need to return to Tokyo. Alternatively, staying in Nagano City is a great option, allowing you to take your time and enjoy yourself.
- Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?
Yes. We can add accommodation in Nagano City. To do so, contact us at anytime to discuss options.
- Can I start in one location and finish in the other? For example, can I be picked-up in Nagano and dropped in Hakuba and if so, can you also transport my luggage?
Yes. You can choose to join the tour in one location and finish in the other. Simply choose your preferred pick-up and drop-off points at time of booking and we’ll take it from there. We can transport one standard-sized piece of luggage per guest. Should you be carrying oversized luggage including skis or a snowboard, please contact us prior to booking to discuss. We should be able to cater to your needs but we need to know in advance.
- What meals are included on the tour?
In order that the schedule works the illumination of the temple, this tour includes an early dinner from around 17:00. We realise it’s early but in having dinner at that time, we can take our guests into the temple once the sky is dark and the illumination is at its best. Please note, given the scheduled early dinner, the tour does not include lunch. Please make sure to eat an early lunch before joining the tour or bring something to snack-on. You are welcome to eat on the bus but we ask that guests be mindful of other guests and cleanliness when doing so.
- I have specific dietary requirements. Can these be catered for?
Yes. This tour uses Monzen Terrace Enya in Nagano City as our dinner restaurant. 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 dinner to the typical tour meal.
- Is this tour suitable for children?
Yes. This tour is designed to be enjoyed by guests of all ages. Should we have younger guests joining the tour, your guide will make sure to make them feel welcome and explain things in a way that is fun and engaging.
- 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
10:45/12:15 - 19:50/21:00