1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake In Nagano

Overview

Take in some of the highlights of Nagano with this engaging tour led by a locally-based English-speaking guide. Visit Zenko-ji Temple — one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan — have lunch and sake at a nearby restaurant, then see the world-famous hot spring-bathing monkeys at the Snow Monkey Park!

Highlights

  • Try sake with a tasting and learning experience all led by your guide (non-alcoholic option also available)
  • Explore Zenko-ji, one of Japan’s oldest and most important Buddhist temples, and home to the first known Buddhist statue to be brought to Japan
  • Enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant and experience Nagano’s renowned food culture
  • Visit the famous Jigokudani Monkey Park and learn all about what makes the resident monkeys so unique

Key Information

Important Information

• Infants aged 0–5 travel for free • There will be a significant amount of walking required (1.6 km one way) to get to and from the Snow Monkey Park along an unsealed forest trail, so please wear appropriate shoes/boots • This tour is not wheelchair accessible and may not be suitable for mobility-impaired travelers. Should you have any concerns about your ability to join the tour, please contact us to discuss prior to booking • This tour uses different forms of transport. Tours can be conducted by microbus, larger coach or train depending on the season and size of the group • From mid-December until early-April, the trail and park 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. From mid-December until early-March, please wear suitable clothing for temperatures potentially below 0°C (and as low as -10°C) • During the winter it is common to see the monkeys enjoying the hot spring, and from spring up to autumn there will be times where the monkeys play or eat in the water. 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 or that the monkeys leave the park early. While this is unlikely to happen, it is possible and is outside of our control • Sake tasting is only suitable for those aged 20 or older; other guests may choose an alcohol-free option

Description

The tour begins at Nagano Station at 09:35, where you'll meet your guides and tour group, then head to Zenko-ji Temple. As a registered National Treasure, the temple is the most important cultural site in Nagano and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in the entire country. Founded in the 7th century, Zenko-ji Temple is a place of true historic importance, full of legends and myths. You'll be guided around the temple before — time permitting — your guide gives you the opportunity to explore the smaller temples and shops in the area by yourself. Home to a huge number of breweries, Nagano is synonymous with sake. No visit to the region is complete without delving into Japan’s most famous beverage! Your guide will treat you to a tasting and introduce you to the complex world of sake, before you sit down for an early lunch. From delicious and warming beef, chicken, or vegetarian hot pot in the winter months, to mixed sushi plates and Nagano-style chicken or seasonal grilled vegetables from spring through autumn, meals are designed to match the season and highlight the best of Nagano’s renowned food culture. After lunch, it’s time to head to the Snow Monkey Park. Your guide will take you along the forest trail which leads to the park and into Jigokudani — rather dramatically translating to "Hell’s Valley". Home to the only troop of monkeys in the entire world known to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience. Your guide will introduce these curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity. Make sure to bring your camera as you're going to need it! Your guide will then accompany you back along the trail and soon have you heading back toward Nagano. Sit back, relax, and look through all those monkey photos before the tour returns to Nagano Station and concludes at 17:35. For guests joining from and returning to Hakuba (winter only), you'll be dropped off at between 18:30 to 18:45.

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