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{Japan} Snow Monkeys @ Jigokudani Monkey Park

If you have a day to spare on your trip to Tokyo, consider visiting the Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑  Jigokudani Yaen Kōen). The park is located in Yamanouchi (a Northern Nagano Prefecture).

 

 

MONKEY PARK LIVE CAM

Check out the Monkey Park live cam (taken once every hour) here. Here’s the shot of us taken by the live cam when we were there! Can you spot us?

HOW TO GET THERE?

Directions to Snow Monkey Park in Nagano

Getting to the Monkey Park. Photo courtesy of http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6027.html

 

Expect to spend at a minimum 3+ hours for travel time to the park and another 3+ hours back to Tokyo.

Assuming you are using a JR Pass…

Option 1:

JR Tokyo Station –> Nagano Shinkansen to Nagano Station (~100 minutes) –> Nagaden Railway to Yudanaka Station (~45 minutes) –> Nagaden bus to Kanbayashi Onsen-Guchi (~15 minutes) –> walk to the Monkey Park (~30 minutes).

  • Total Time: ~3 hours 50 minutes one way (actual time will be more due to waiting time for trains/buses).
  • Total cost: ~3,460yen per person round trip on Express Nagaden train OR ~2,760yen per person round trip on Local Nagaden train. Breakdown: FREE (Shinkansen JR Pass)  + 2460yen (Nagaden Railway) + 500yen (bus roundtrip) + 500yen entrance fee.

 

Option 2:
JR Tokyo Station –> Nagano Shinkansen to Nagano Station (~100 minutes) –> Nagaden Express bus to Kanbayashi Onsen-Guchi (~50 minutes) –> Walk to the Monkey Park (~30 minutes).

  • Total Time: ~3 hours one way (actual time will be more due to waiting time for trains/buses).
  • Total cost: ~3,100yen per person round trip. Breakdown: FREE (Shinkansen JR Pass) + 2600yen (bus roundtrip) + 500yen entrance fee.

 

The walk to the park from Kanbayashi Onsen-Guchi, is through a hiking/walking trail that’s about 1.8km (or 1.1 miles). The walk takes about 30 minutes or so to get there. More details about getting there located here. The option that works best will likely be dependent on your schedule and budget. For example, you might have to wait an hour to catch the express bus, so you will choose to take the Nagaden Railway option etc…

 

REASONS TO GO…

  1. The monkeys are adorable.
  2. You’ve probably never seen snow monkeys (aka Japanese Macaques) before.
  3. Snow monkeys are not afraid of humans. You can get really close to them and take lots of pictures of them.
  4. You can also stop by one of the many onsen ryokans located in that area and experience bathing in hot spring baths or even stay the night at onsen ryokans.
  5. Snow monkeys dipping in onsens. I should not need to say more.

 

REASONS NOT TO GO…

  1. The trail to the park will require some amount of physical fitness (ability to walk 1.1 miles along a walking trail in a forest).
  2. You will need to set aside an entire day for this trip (unless you go early in the morning and don’t spend too much time at the Monkey Park so you can get back to the city for the second half of the day).
  3. For those who are using JR passes, this trip will cost ~3,100yen per person. For those without JR Passes, this trip will cost ~11,110yen per person.
  4. It could get very cold at the park during winter months and might be hot/smelly during summer months (according to some visitor forums).

{our photo gallery located here}

 REMEMBER:

 

  1. Costs above assumes you have a JR pass. If not, your Nagano Shinkansen trip will cost an additional ~8,160yen round trip per person.
  2. Suica Cards don’t work on Nagaden railway or buses, so make sure you have cash to pay for the tickets.
  3. Eat a full breakfast and bring some snacks & drinks along with you. There will not be any food for sale at the Monkey Park.
  4. Once you get to Kanbayashi Onsen, there is a 1.8km or 1.1 miles hike along a forest trail. During winter, this trail will be covered in snow, so wear proper shoes for hiking/walking. It should take ~30 minutes for a leisurely hike along the trail.
  5. Don’t forget your camera!

Let us know about YOUR experience at the snow monkey park!

 

 

44 Comments

  1. Candy November 16, 2014 Reply

    When in Dec did you go? If I were to go around 6 Dec, would it alredy be snowing? How cold did it get?

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