Nagano Trip Series : Jigokudani (地獄谷) Snow Monkey Onsen

Hey monkeys! What are you guys doing?

A very cute picture like this can only be taken at this place, “Wild Snow Monkey Park Jigokudani (地獄谷)” in Nagano Prefecture. Around 160 members of a Japanese monkey troop will come to this park everyday to find food. Some hug each other for warmth, some clean up others. However, the most unique of all is that they go into the hot spring like humans!! Not only Japanese people love hot spring but also monkeys as well!! And we can go to see them at a very close distance!! How awesome is that!!


This little one looks a bit sad haha!


Wild Snow Monkey Park Jigokudani (地獄谷) is a place where wild Japanese Macaque will go to find food and get into the Hot Spring everyday all year long. We are able to be among them and take pictures  without any cages or bars. That is the unique characteristic of this park.

These monkeys are very tame and not scared of people at all. Some might play with us or do a pose for us to take pictures like a model lol. However, they are still wild animals, so please be careful not to directly touch them or give them food. There are mother monkeys with babies as well. Please do not try to touch them as they will think that you will harm their babies and they will be very fierce.

Anyway, just watching them getting into the onsen was gold for me. It is the only place in the world that you can experience this.




I will explain the transportation that I used in my trip. I visited Nagano for 3 days and stayed over night at Shibu Onsen (渋温泉) which is an Onsen City close to the park. You can also visit this park within a day but I recommend you spend at least 3 days in Nagano. There are tons of places that you can visit and trust me, 3 days are not enough.




Let’s begin our journey! We will start from Tokyo Station and head to Nagano Station (Red Dot) by Hokuriku Shinkansen (Green Line). It takes around 1 hr. 30 minutes and if you have any JR PASS, riding the Shinkansen will not be any problem for you. Then, we have to change to the Local Line at Nagano Station. For that, we have to pay for another ticket.


Tokyo Station –> Nagano Station (Hokuriku Shinkansen) 1 hr. 30 minutes


Which Pass can you use?

  • JR PASS All Area Click>>>
  • JR EAST PASS (Flexible 5 Days) Click>>>
  • JR EAST PASS-Nagano, Niigata area (Launched 1 April 2016) Click>>>
  • JR Hokuriku Arch Pass (Launched 1 April 2016) Click>>>


For the first two passes, you have to purchase it before you come to Japan. For the other two, you can buy them in Japan.

“Tokyo Wide PASS” is a choice for those who have a long-term visa. However, this pass will only take you to Sakudaira Station where you have to purchase more Shinkansen tickets.




Next, we will take the Nagano Dentetsu Line (Red Line) to Yudanaka Station (湯田中). We have to change trains one time at Shinshunakano Station (信州中野). Don’t worry, it is still the same line. It costs 1,150 yen for this one.


Nagano Station –> Shinshunakano Station (信州中野) 40 minutes

Shinshunakano Station –>Yudanaka Station (湯田中) 15 minutes

*There is an Express Train which will reduce the time.



Here’s a picture of Yudanaka Station. FYI, there is a Tourist Information Center and Taxi Company at this station.


Next, we can take a bus from Yudanaka Station to “Kanbayashi Onsen” Stop (Red Star). Then, we will walk up the street until the end of the red arrow. Otherwise, we can grab a taxi from the station. The black arrow is the path on the mountain.    



Here’s a time schedule at “Kanbayashi Onsen” Stop for returning back to the station.



Please remember this place (Red Star) as you have to take a bus from here on the way back.





There is Bus Service direct to Kanbayashi Onsen Stop from Nagano Station (1,300 yen). This way is suitable for those who plan to visit the park and go back Tokyo within 1 day. Here’s the details for those who are interested. Click>>>



Here we are at the Entrance (Stating Point of Black Arrow)




From there, we will walk around 30 minutes. If you visit the park around winter, please be careful of the slippery path and mud along the way. At the entrance, there is a souvenir shop with Rental Boots Service. You can use that too.




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