Getting around: Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

With winter fast approaching, visitors to Japan may be interested in checking out the world renowned hot spring bathing Macaques at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. Here’s a quick guide on how to get there and what to expect for the visit

Getting to Nagano station

Nagano is the nearest city to the Snow Monkey Park. To get there, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo. Cater 2 hours for the trip from Tokyo to Nagano station, for departure timings you can find them here

Navigating Nagano station

naganostation_map

Like most major train stations in Japan, Nagano station can get busy and a tad confusing to navigate at times. To get from Nagano station to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, you first have to buy the excellent value 1 day pass (includes transport and park admission), then find the correct bus stand to take the direct Nagaden Express bus service to the park. Note: 1 day pass sales counter and the bus stand are at Opposite sides of Nagano station

To buy the 1 day pass, turn right upon exiting Nagano station and head for Zenkoji Exit. Take the escalator to ground floor before entering the basement Nagano Dentetsu line station immediately. Then turn left and walk to end for the 1 day pass sales counter

Finding the Express bus stand

The bus stand to take the Nagaden Express bus is at the ground floor of Nagano station’s East exit. This means after buying the 1 day pass, you will have to take escalators all the way up to platform level of Nagano station and head to the other side of the station. The bus stand is at East exit’s ground floor and the departure timings can be seen below. Show the bus driver your 1 day pass after boarding and you will arrive at Snow monkey park bus stop after a smooth 45 minutes ride

1 day pass bus station.jpeg

Hiking to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

From the Snow Monkey Park bus stop, it’s a nice 30 minutes hike through nature to reach the hot spring bathing Macaques. The first few minutes leading up to the trail can be very much uphill but the rest of the hike has a relatively gentler incline and should not pose any problems even for a family with young kids. Here’s a good article on how to prepare for the hike and what to expect along the way

Walk up.jpg

At the end of the hike, just show your 1 day pass at the Snow Monkey Park entrance and you will be ushered into the home of the adorable Japanese Macaques. For a closer look at their daily routine, there’s even a live camera beside the pool, accessible online

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Note: Daily opening hours

8:30 to 17:00 (April to October)
9:00 to 16:00 (November to March)

Hope this guide helps in your quest to see other primates enjoying Onsen. Do leave a comment if you need more information about the park or additional suggestions on what to do/see/eat in Nagano

*Travelled in Dec 2015

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