(Special Event) Nagano's Hidden Samurai Town & Tomyo Lantern Festival Tour
10:45/12:15 - 19:40/21:00
(Special Event) Nagano's Hidden Samurai Town & Tomyo Lantern Festival Tour
This engaging special event tour transports you to Nagano’s hidden samurai town of Matsuhiro for an afternoon of samurai experiences and discovery of the open secret beneath its feet before enjoying an early dinner and guided evening tour of the city’s near-1400 year old Zenko-ji Temple during it’s Tomyo Lantern Festival.
- Discover Nagano’s hidden samurai town of Matsushiro, former stronghold of the Sanada clan and home to the Bunbu Gakko Military Arts School where you can try your hand at ‘katana’ (sword) practice
- Descend underground to the Zozan Imperial Tunnels beneath Matsushiro – the intended hidden headquarters of the Japanese government and military in the closing stages of WW2
- Warm yourself on some of Nagano’s best ‘sake’ with a guided tasting followed by early dinner at Monzen Terrace Enya
- Explore Nagano’s near-1400 Zenko-ji Temple with a guided evening tour and free-time to enjoy the Tomyo Lantern Festival as the temple is awash with the ‘Buddha’s Light’, light installations and ‘kiri-e’ paper lanterns
- Including English-speaking guide and option of pick-up / drop-off in both Hakuba and Nagano
This tour includes pickup at two 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 Matsushiro – Nagano’s hidden samurai town. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), Matsushiro grew as the stronghold of the powerful Sanada clan. Today, many buildings and relics of the town’s samurai past remain, including the Bunbu Gakko Military Arts School. Founded late in the Edo Period, the school taught the sons of the high-ranking family in samurai arts including combat, sword-fighting, archery and more.
Arriving around 13:00, 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 defence. Suitable for both children and adults, you’ll then have the chance to put on imitation samurai armour – a fun and engaging way to learn all about Nagano’s samurai past and the ‘bushido’ (warrior) code that would shape things to come.
From the Bunbu Gakko, your guide will accompany you the short distance to one of Japan’s least-known but most intriguing historical sites – the Zozan Imperial Wartime Tunnels. Marshalled by the same ‘bushido’ code as taught at military academies throughout the country, Japan was a key protagonist in the Second World War. As the tide of the war turned against the Japanese and an invasion by the Allied Forces was anticipated in 1945, construction began on an immense series of tunnels beneath Matsushiro that were intended to shelter the government and military in the event of that invasion.
The war ended before the tunnels were completed but to this day, an extensive portion of the tunnels remain open. Your guide will accompany you underground and explain the story of the tunnels, the sacrifices made to construct them, and a history that that never was.
It’s then time to head into Nagano City where you’ll first enjoy a guided ‘sake’ tasting at one of the city’s oldest breweries before heading to Monzen Terrace Enya for a warming early dinner – your choice of beef, chicken or vegetable hot pot along with starters, dessert and complimentary drinks. From the restaurant, it’s a short stroll into the temple. For almost 1400 years, Zenko-ji has acted as the spiritual heart of Nagano and today, is a registered National Treasure with its own hidden secret… just one part of the temple’s rich story that your guide will illuminate for you.
Your guide will lead you through the temple complex, explaining its history and importance allowing you plenty of free-time to explore for yourself. 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. 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 – a beautiful and poignant way to end an engaging day in Nagano.
Following the festival, your guide will have you board the tour bus and head to Nagano Station with drop-off at 19:50 followed by drop-offs in Hakuba between 21:00 to 21:10, bringing the tour to a close*.
*For guests who joined the tour in Hakuba, the bus will then shuttle you back to the Hakuba where your day is scheduled to conclude between 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.
|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.
|The final pick-up is at Nagano Station from where you will head directly to Matsushiro.
|Arrive at Bunbu Gakko Military School in Matsushiro and enjoy a short guided tour followed by samurai experiences for two hours.
|Arrive at the Zozan Imperial Tunnels and be guided for around 40-minutes after which you will board the tour bus and return to Nagano City.
|Enjoy a guided 'sake' tasting (including non-alcoholic options) along with local 'miso' and other tasty treats at Yoshinoya Brewery before heading to dinner.
|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.
|Head into the temple where you will be guided before having plenty of time to yourself to explore the complex and enjoy the Tomyo Lantern Festival.
|Meetup with your guide and board the tour bus.
|First drop-off at Nagano Station - 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 both Hakuba and Nagano City 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 / 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.
- Transportation from / to Hakuba, Nagano and all listed activities / attractions
- English-speaking guide
- Bunbu Gakko entry fee & samurai experiences
- Guided tour of Zozan Imperial Tunnels
- Guided tour of Zenko-ji Temple
- Sake tasting inc. non-alcoholic options
- Dinner (vegetarian options are available) inc. up to 2 standard alcoholic drinks
- Shinkansen / ‘Bullet Train’ tickets
- Additional food, snacks and drinks
- Accommodation (unless requested)
- Due to the nature of this tour, it is not wheelchair accessible and may not be suitable for mobility-impaired guests. Should you have any concerns about your ability to join the tour, please contact us prior to booking to discuss options.
- During the tour, you will spend a lot of time outdoors includng at night at the temple while also spending time during the time in the Zozan Tunnels. Temperatures may be below 0°C with the possibility of snow during the tour. Please dress appropriately for the conditions and wear good quality footwear suitable for walking on snow and ice.
- Weather and road conditions in winter mean that we cannot guarantee the tour end time. While we expect to be on-time, guests intending to book a shinkansen service to Tokyo should book one of the following: Nagano: 20:27 – Tokyo 21:56 – Kagayaki (reserved seats only) / Nagano: 20:35 – Tokyo 22:12 – Hakutaka / Nagano: 21:16 – Tokyo 23:00 – Asama.
- 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.
- Due to time constraints and in order to time our arrival for the evening Tomyo Festival, this tour does not include lunch. Please make sure to have an early lunch or bring something to snack on during the day. Between Nagano Station and dinner there won’t be any opportunities to purchase food.
- ‘Sake’ tasting will take place at Yoshinoya Brewery in Nagano City. You must be aged 20 years and over to sample alcoholic drinks. Non-alcoholic options will also be offered to all guests along with the chance to try local ‘miso’, ‘tsukemono’ and other products.
- This tour includes dinner at Monzen Terrace Enya. The photos included above are of the menu served in the previous year’s tour. 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.
- Illumination and installations at the festival change each year and may not be the same as those shown in images above.
- In an effort to reduce waste and work towards its ‘Go Zero Carbon by 2050’ target initiative, Nagano Prefecture is encouraging visitors to think about how they can help reduce our impact on the environment including bringing a reusable bottle on the tour rather than purchase disposable bottles. All guests who do so will receive an eco-bag and ‘Rokumonsen’ fan in thanks for their cooperation.
- Infants (0-5) are free of charge. An infant meal is not included and the order will be made directly to the restaurant according to your needs.
- The tour application deadline is 2 days before the tour date at 17:00.
- 長野県地域発元気づくり支援金活用事業 / Nagano Prefecture Support Program for Regional Revitalization
- 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 StationTokyo: 09:44 – Nagano 11:34 – Asama Tokyo: 10:24 – Nagano 11:43 –Kagayaki Tokyo: 10:32 – Nagano 12:06 – HakutakaDeparting Nagano Station – Arriving Tokyo StationNagano: 20:27 – Tokyo 21:56 – Kagayaki (reserved seats only) Nagano: 20:35 – Tokyo 22:12 – Hakutaka Nagano: 21:16 – Tokyo 23:00 – Asama
- Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?
- Yes. We can add accommodation in Nagano City and Hakuba. To do so, contact us firstname.lastname@example.org 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 snowboards, 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. 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 - 19:40/21:00