Private Full-Day Tour of Nagano: Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji, Obuse Town, Sake and Onsen
- Nagano City is well-known for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympic Games and while some of the former Olympic facilities can still be viewed in Nagano, the city has since evolved as a temple town revolving around the famous Zenkoji Temple, and is most visited during the Spring Season (for cherry blossoms), the Fall Season (for autumn foliage) and the Winter Season (for winter activities and for seeing the snow monkeys).
- On this tour, spend a full-day in Nagano exploring the city and enjoying what this quaint town has to offer. Your English-speaking tour guide will pick you up with a private vehicle at your hotel or at Nagano Train Station between 9 to 9:30 AM.
- On the route to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, enjoy the beautiful scenery and landscape of the Chikuma River, where you may also try local miso soup and see how local people eat in the area.
- Before arriving at the entrance of the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, enjoy a 30 – 40 minute leisurely stroll through the forest path. Once you enter the park, have some hot tea before spending time with the snow monkeys, many of which are bathing in the hot springs (onsen) to keep warm, especially during the cool months of autumn and winter.
- After an exciting morning at the park, visit Obuse Town, which is most well-known for being the home town of Japan’s most famous artist and creator of the “Great Wave”, Hokusai Katsushika. Enjoy lunch in the area before walking around to explore the shops and try sake tasting.
- After a day at Obuse Town, head to Zenko-ji Temple, one of the most important and popular temples in Japan, as it stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan when Buddhism was first introduced in the 6th century. Learn about the temple and how the locals pray for good fortune.
- Optional: At the end of the day, enjoy an onsen experience in Shibu Onsen (a hot spring resort that has 1,300 years of history). Step back into time while walking through this historic Onsen Town.
Seasonal Recommendations for This Tour:
Spring Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Viewing: Mid-April to Early-May
Autumn Foliage (Koyo) Viewing: Early-September to Late-November
Winter Festivities: Early-December to Late-March
- A private local tour guide with private car for your group
- Entrance fee to Zenko-ji Temple
- Entrance fee to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
- Round-trip bullet train from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (free for visitors with JR pass). Train tickets available as add-on at checkout.
- Meals, snacks and drinks
- Onsen (hot spring) fee: 700 JPY per person
- All year round, but especially recommended during Spring (for cherry blossoms), Fall (for autumn foliage) and Winter (for snow monkeys and winter festivities).
- The monkeys enter the onsen all year round, but sometimes the park wardens will encourage the monkeys by throwing food into the pool, especially during the warmer seasons of the year.
Location: Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture
Time: Start time is between 9 AM to 9:30 AM (may be earlier depending on availability). The full tour is between 8 to 9 hours in length.
- Adult: 19,000 JPY per person (minimum of 2 people)
- Child: 9,500 JPY per person
Price with Round-Trip Bullet Train from Tokyo:
- Adult (with bullet train to and from Tokyo): 37,000 JPY per person (minimum of 2 people)
- Child (with bullet train to and from Tokyo): 18,500 JPY per person
- Must provide names of all guests and birth dates
- A current valid passport is required on the day of travel
- For this tour, if we provide train tickets: we will send train tickets to the guests’ hotel in Tokyo (the hotel which guests are staying at before their Nagano trip). Please provide: 1) Hotel Name in Tokyo, 2) Guest Name who booked the hotel, 3) Confirmation Number, and 4) Dates of Stay at the hotel in Tokyo.
- If a larger vehicle is needed: The tour guide will be driving a standard mid-size car. If this car is not large enough and a larger vehicle/van is required (for a group with 4 or less people), please make a request at the time of booking. The rental car/van is pending availability and will be an additional cost of 10,000 JPY in cash payable on the day of the tour. For groups of 5 or more people, a rental car/van large enough to fit your group will be included (at no additional cost).
- Snow Monkeys in warmer seasons: The snow starts to melt in March, and the snow monkeys may not bathe as often as they did in the winter to keep warm. Guests may see the snow monkeys taking a swim as the park staff gives them lunch, but unlike winter months, there are definitely days when the monkeys just do not feel like entering the bath. When it is warm and the sun is out, the monkeys tend to be more active and move around the area. The monkeys are more likely to be grooming in the warmer seasons. While Winter is not the only time to see snow monkeys, please note that they are wild animals and it is difficult to predict their behavior. You can still visit the Snow Monkey Park, but seeing the snow monkeys and watching them bathe is not always guaranteed.
Winter in Nagano
In winter, the walking trail to the Snow Monkey Park may get slippery, so please wear winter shoes (sometimes provided by the hotel/ryokan guests are staying at). The temperatures in Nagano are much colder than Tokyo, so please prepare warm clothes.
This private tour is for a group of 8 or less people. For a larger group, we may have two tour guides present (depending on availability).
For this tour, if we provide train tickets: we will send train tickets to the guests’ hotel in Tokyo (the hotel which guests are staying at before their Nagano trip).
All reservations are final and is payable via PayPal. Confirmations regarding your booking will be sent at least 10 days before your activity date.
Nagano Prefecture is widely known as the home of the Japanese Alps and the host of the Winter Olympics in 1998. As Nagano City spans over a large area, many locations may be difficult to experience without a vehicle to drive from and to each destination. This tour includes a private tour guide and vehicle for your convenience in traveling around Nagano City.
How far in advance should I book?
Nagano City is a popular destination from Tokyo. We recommend making a reservation as early as possible and ideally, at least a month in advance.
When is it Peak Season and what does that mean for this tour?
There are many peak seasons in Nagano, but it is especially busy during the Autumn and Winter Seasons. During these peak seasons, there will be heavy traffic on the roads and may take two to three times the duration to travel between locations.
Other peak holidays include Golden Week (May 6th to 27th), the Obon Holidays (August 11th to 20th), and the New Year Holidays (December 28th – January 6th).