How to get from Nagano to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Snow monkeys hanging out at the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park near Nagano
Snow monkeys hanging out at the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park near Nagano

One of the main reasons you should visit Nagano is for the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, a unique onsen, or hot spring, filled with wild Japanese Macaques. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a hot spring with wild monkeys that you can visit in Japan. The park, located northeast of Nagano, requires a little work to reach, including a 1-mile (1.6 kilometers) trek on a narrow pathway through a beautiful snow-covered (in the winter) forest.

If you decide to make the effort, the answer is definitely yes. It is one of the most unique sights you will see anywhere in Asia or the world. Your friends will be jealous when they see photos of you hanging out with snow monkeys only inches away from you.

To reach the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park from Nagano, you have two main options: train or express bus.

It seems simple, right? In reality, the transportation options can be confusing for first-time visitors. Even I got a little confused with all the different options of trains and buses. I will try to explain better below.

With that said, before you decide which form of transportation you want to use, you should learn about the Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass.

YouTube video

Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass

If you will be traveling round trip from Nagano Station to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, then the Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass is highly recommended. It will save you money and the hassle of buying individual train, bus, and admission tickets.

Note: the pass is not always for sale, especially in the summer. The pass will be sold for the 2017-2018 winter season starting on December 2, 2017.

Snow Monkey 1 Day Pass
Snow Monkey 1 Day Pass

The Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass includes:

  • One-day unlimited use of the Nagaden Train
  • One-day unlimited use of the Nagaden Express Bus between Nagano Station and Kanbayashi Onsen
  • One-day unlimited use of the local Nagaden Bus between Yudanaka Station and Kanbayashi Onsen
  • Admission to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

As of December 2017, this pass is for foreign visitors only. It costs 3200 yen ($28.82) and is valid for one calendar day. For the price, this is a great deal considering it costs 1160-1260 yen one way to take the Nagaden train or 1400 yen one way to take the Nagaden bus. The pass also covers admission to the park, which would typically cost 500 yen.

Credit cards were not accepted even though the sticker on the window said otherwise. JR passes do not work for the bus or the train.

The pass can only be purchased from the window inside the Nagaden Nagano Station, which is located underground, directly next to the JR Nagano Station. With your back facing the main entrance of the JR Nagano Station, walk to your right until you see a staircase that leads downstairs to the Nagaden Nagano Station.

With your pass in hand, it is now time to decide how you will get to the park.

Getting from Nagano to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park by Nagano Dentetsu Bus

Nagaden bus outside Nagano Station headed towards Shiga Kogen
Nagaden bus outside Nagano Station headed towards Shiga Kogen

Getting to the park by bus is your easiest option.

From Nagano Station, take the Nagano Dentetsu Bus (Nagaden) towards Shiga Kogen. This bus stops at Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi, a short walk from the entrance to the monkey park. These buses do not stop at Yudanaka Station. Check out the maps at the bottom of the page to better understand the area.

If you take the express bus, board the bus towards Shiga Kogen (disembark at Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi).

The Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass covers the bus fare. Just show the bus driver your pass. If you wish to pay with cash, the cost is 1400 en/one way, and you can pay the bus driver directly.

When I boarded the bus, I was a little surprised. The bus was virtually empty except for a couple from San Francisco next to me. But depending on when you visit, your situation might be different.

The bus will stop at Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi near a gas station. From the gas station, walk downhill and turn right at the first road (don’t turn right into the small parking lot).

Signs along the way will point you in the right direction. Continue up the road until you reach a junction. Make a right and continue up the road for another five minutes until you reach the start of the walking trail.

From Nagano Station to Snow Monkey Park
Nagano Station Snow Monkey Park
8:15 9:02
9:00 9:47
10:15 11:05
10:15 11:02
11:15 12:02
12:15 13:05
12:35 13:22
13:20 14:07
14:30 15:17
15:15 16:05
17:15 18:02
From Snow Monkey Park to Nagano Station
Snow Monkey Park Nagano Station
8:40 9:36
10:50 11:46
12:50 13:46
14:05 15:00
14:50 15:46
15:15 16:11
16:15 17:11
16:35 17:35
17:15 18:23
18:10 19:11

Getting from Nagano Station to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park by train

 JR Nagano Station. On the left is the entrance to Nagaden Nagano Station
JR Nagano Station. On the left is the entrance to Nagaden Nagano Station

Using the train to get to the park is a little more time-consuming and will require additional modes of transportation, including a bus.

First, I will explain how to get from Nagano Station to Yudanaka Station.

Nagano to Yudanaka Station

Nagaden Limited Express Train (left) and Nagaden Local Train (right)
Nagaden Limited Express Train (left) and Nagaden Local Train (right)

The Nagano Electric Railway, commonly known as Nagaden, operates two trains per hour between Nagaden Nagano Station (next to the JR Nagano Station) and Yudanaka Station in Yamanouchi. One train is a limited express train, while the other is a local train.

If you take the train, use your Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass or purchase a ticket for the Nagano Dentetsu Line (Nagaden) towards Yudanaka Station.

The Nagano Electric Railway Limited Express takes about 50 minutes and costs 1,260 yen. It does not require transfers to reach Yudanaka Station.

The local Nagano Electric Railway train costs 1160 yen and takes 53 to 81 minutes, including transfers, to reach Yudanaka Station. If you choose to take this local train, you will have to transfer once at Shinshunakano Station.

Taking the limited express train is well worth the extra 100 yen cost. Be sure to plan and check the train schedules.

While the Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass covers the entire journey on these trains, Japan Rail Passes do not.

Yudanaka Station to the bus stop(s) near Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Yudanaka Station
Yudanaka Station

Once you arrive at Yudanaka Station, you must board a bus, and this is where it gets confusing.

From the station, you will need to board a bus that stops at either Kanbayashi Onsen (closest to the monkey park) or Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi (just down the road about 200 meters). In the winter, the buses leave every hour, taking about 9-15 minutes (310 yen).

It does not matter which bus you get on if you are okay with walking an extra 5 minutes. Just get on whichever bus is next. There is no point waiting around at the station to save only five minutes.

Bus stop to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

The Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi bus stop located next to this gas station
The Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi bus stop located next to this gas station

If your bus stops at the Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop, continue uphill for about five minutes until you reach the start of the walking trail.

If your bus stops at the Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi bus stop, it will be near a gas station off the main road. From here, walk downhill and turn right at the first road after the small parking lot. Signs along the way will point you in the right direction.

Continue up the road until you reach a junction. Make a right at the intersection and continue up the road for another five minutes until you reach the trailhead.

Admission for the train, bus, and monkey park are all covered by the Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass.

The trailhead to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
The trailhead to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

To reach the snow monkeys, you must hike 1.6 kilometers from the trailhead. In the winter, the trail is slippery and covered in snow.

Are you confused? So am I. The maps below will explain it better.

Kanbayashi Spa area map
Kanbayashi Spa area map

Last Updated on April 17, 2024

62 thoughts on “How to get from Nagano to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park”

  1. Thanks for the post! Super helpful!
    I’m just a bit worried about how I will know when to get off the bus. Will they announce the name of the next bus stop before you arrive?

    Thanks again

    • Glad I could help! From what I remember, the only people on the bus with me were getting off at the monkey park, so the bus driver signaled us at the stop. To be safe, just say “monkey park” to the driver when you board the bus. Even if he does not understand English, I am sure he will point to you when it is time to get off. Otherwise, keep en eye out for the gas station in the photo.

  2. Hi there!
    I’m researching for my Nov trip and curious to know, the Snow Monkey Pass can be purchased on the spot at Nagaden Nagano Station or need to order online first, like from JapaniCan?

  3. Hi,

    Thank you so much for the helpful information! Can you tell me where I can board the bus after visiting the monkey park?

    I’m planning to go in late December and taking Shinkansen to Nagano and back, so I want to make sure I won’t miss the train.


  4. Hello,
    How long does the bus take from Nagano to the monkey park? Also, do you know how often the bus comes/goes? Thanks for the informative post!

    • Es,

      The Nagaden Express Bus from Nagano Station to Kanbayashi Onsen takes about 41 minutes.

      Until April 4, 2016, the bus departs at 8:15 (Saturdays only until March 26, 2016), 9:05, 10:15, 11:15, 12:40, and 14:25.

      Be sure to confirm these times on your arrival in Nagano.

  5. Hi Anthony, doing my research for the snow park found this really helpful. I have a question regarding timing.
    We would take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano and arrive at 8:46. I found the next bus to the Snow monkey bus stop leaves at 9:05 (

    Do you think those ~20 minutes will be enough to purchase the snow monkey pass in the station and find the bus? (also we’d like to find a locker to leave our backpacks, though that might be out of the question with the limited time)

    we’ll be there in the middle of March and want to be at the park as early as possible (bus at 9:05) to increase our chances of seeing the monkeys in the onsen.

    thanks for your time!

    • Mike,

      This is a tough question to answer.

      If the Shinkansen arrives in Nagano on time (which they usually do), then 19 minutes could be enough time if you walk fast and know exactly where to go to buy the tickets and board the bus. I worry if this is your first time at Nagano Station that you might get lost and lose valuable time.

      Also remember that you will have to leave JR Nagano Station and walk over to the adjacent Nagaden Nagano Station to purchase the snow monkey pass.

      Just try your best to make the connection and worst case you have to wait for the next bus an hour later.

  6. My mom and I used your info to get to/from the monkeys today! The snow monkey pass was useful if not quick. I will make sure to share this when people ask how to get there!

  7. Hi Anthony,

    Would you know if the park is as snowy as the trailhead picture shown, in end March? Would the temperature be significantly different from when the picture was taken (when was it taken by the way)?


    • Calvin,

      This photo was taken in January, so I wouldn’t think there would be as much snow at the end of March.

      A great way to get up to the moment photos of the snow monkey park is by searching tags on Instagram. People should be posting photos in the moment, so you can get a good sense of the current conditions.

      Even with all this, weather can change quickly, so always be prepared.

  8. Hi Anthony,

    What an absolutely GREAT article which, like the others before, will doubtless prove hugely useful to me! (I am about to head off from London to Japan with my 80-year old mother, so your guide to reaching the snow monkeys will be invaluable, frankly!)

    May I ask a question, Anthony?

    When you are leaving the park after having seen the monkeys, how easy is it to retrace the same route back to Nagano? Specifically, how EASY/DIFFICULT is it to:

    (a) Collect the return “Nagano Dentetsu (Nagaden) Bus” — for instance, is the return bus stop near to the gas station, just on the other side?

    (b) Get back to Yudanaka station from the trail start point (which, perhaps wrongly, I assume you need to walk back down to once you’re finished at the Park?) if you decide to take the train back to Nagano? (Or perhaps hailing a taxi is a possibility to get back to Yudanaka station?)

    Any hints, Anthony, would be so gratefully received.

    All the best,


    • Simon,

      Sorry for the late reply, just got back from Singapore and have been super busy.

      Thank you for the questions.

      (a) The bus stop for the Nagano Dentetsu (Nagaden) Bus back into Nagao was located on the opposite side of the road about 50 meters north of where it dropped you off from. Just look out for a group of people waiting for the bus. If you take this route, the bus will take you directly back to Nagano Station, bypassing Yudanaka Station.

      (b) If you decide to take the train back to Nagano, you will either have to walk, taxi, or take the bus to Yudanaka Station. This bus departs from Kanbayashi Onsen Bus Stop, which is located about 350 meters downhill from the monkey park trailhead.

      It has been almost 2 years since I made the journey, so hopefully all the information is still correct. I also updated the Google Map above so hopefully that will make it easier for you to understand.

  9. Hey Anthony

    Your information is what’s gonna help me get there when I head down in December. Just to let you know that due to the entrance fee increasing in December 2016 (500 to 800), the snow pass now costs 3200jpy.


    • Nicole,

      Thank you for the update. When I went was in 2014 so I assumed things have changed and prices have increased. Maybe I will have to go again and update this post this winter.

  10. Hi Anthony,

    How much time should I allocate to spend at the Snow Monkey Park? Meaning from time of arrival and walking up the trail (and back)
    plus time viewing the monkeys. I presume it gets dark by about 4 or 5 pm.

    • Jeff,

      The trail was about one mile, so walking in snow at a good pace should take about 30 minutes each way. I spent about 45 minutes taking photos and videos of the monkeys. I would allocate about 2-2.5 hours from the start of the hike, visiting the monkeys, and back to the trail head. With the sun starting to set around 430pm in the winter, I would recommend starting the hike no later than 1pm, earlier if possible.

  11. Hi Anthony,

    Thanks for sharing your journey! This is so helpful.
    Two questions though – what’s the difficulty level of the trail? Is there any station to stop and rest along the way?
    The only reason i’m asking is that i’m going with my 66 YO mom and we never experience snow-trekking.
    She’s cool walking flat surface, but not so much with inclination.

    Thanks before!

    • Arie,

      The trail wasn’t difficult at all except for the fact that it was covered in snow in the winter. Just walk slowly and you should be ok but be alert for the occasional slippery step.

      Once you start the trail, I don’t recall any rest stops, but you can stop on the trail wherever you like and take a break.

  12. Hi Anthony,
    Thank you so much for writing this. This saves me so much trouble and research. πŸ™‚
    I was wondering, do you know where I can find a timetable for the Nagaden bus after April 3rd? I will be arriving at Shibu Onsen on April 7th and going to the monkey park on the 8th, then need to get to Nagano Station afterwards. I saw somewhere that there are only 4 Nagaden buses a day after wintertime, so I’d like to plan transit times as much as possible.
    I really appreciate it.

    • Danny,

      Just outside the central gate of Nagano Station is the Nagano City Tourist Information Center. You will be able to find out the bus schedule here.

  13. Seems like they the most innocent monkeys in the world. Its a worth visit place. One needs to be careful while walking, as the ground is very slippery.

    • Rina,
      Innocent monkeys yes, but be sure not to have any food or snacks on you. Those monkeys sure love food. And yes, the trails can be very slippery in the winter when covered in snow.

  14. Hello Anthony thank you for all your information ,going with a bus tour Wendy wu early november to see the Snow monkeys I am 73 years ,and planning to tale my walking polls ,just a bit worried about the weather ,as i am on my own now thats why I go with organised tours ,however its reasuring reading your help blogs thank you Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth,

      I hope you had a great time visiting the snow monkeys. In November, there usually isn’t too much snow yet, so the ground isn’t as slippery as it can be in the middle of the winter.

    • Jeni,

      Yes. It will be a long day, but if you take the bullet train (Shinkansen) from Tokyo to Nagano, you can easily do the snow monkey park as a day trip.

  15. Hi Anthony,
    My son and I will have suitcases with us as we will be moving on from our days in Tokyo and plan to head to Hiroshima after visiting Nanago. Is there anywhere that we could leave our suitcases while at the park?
    Thanking you for your help.

  16. Do you happen to know if the monkeys are there all day during late December and early January? Or is there a better time of the day to see them?

    • Kulia,

      The park is only open until 4 pm as the sun sets pretty early in late December and early January. At that time of the year, the snow monkeys are usually there all day but with animals, you never know. I would go earlier than later.

  17. Hi Anthony,
    wow your post is really helpfull!!! i will visit snow monkey park on early january 2018 with my kids, they are 4 and 6 years old, i want to ask is the walking trail will be difficult for them? is it possible for me to bring stroller? is there any restaurant or snack shop at the snow monkey park? thank you

    • Teresa,

      The trail can be slippery in the winter, but if you walk slowly and carefully, I don’t think it would be a problem with kids. The trail was fairly flat except for some stairs near the entrance. As for a stroller, no, I wouldn’t recommend it and I am not even sure it is allowed.

      At the bus stop, I believe there was a restaurant or place to get food and drinks but I didn’t go inside. There was also a gift shop at the trailhead which I think had drinks for sale. Also, keep any food away from the monkeys, they will try to steal it from you.

  18. Hello Anthony,

    This is really helpful. The Jigokudani Monkey Park has been on my bucket list for a number of years already. When i visit Japan again this March, I will surely go to Nagano and take lots of photographs of the snow monkeys. I am sure the One-Day Snow Monkey Park Pass will be of great help.

    Thank you again.

  19. Hi Anthony,
    How easy is to get taxi in that area (at the bus stop). I would like to reserved my seat from Nagano to Tokyo. Based on my experience, our time management is awful – just need to be ready for the contingency plan to catch the train on time.
    BTW.. very good article and really helpful.

    • Arie,
      Sorry for the late reply. I wish I had an answer for you about the taxis. Near the bus stop is Shigakogen Roman Museum. I would recommend you go inside the museum and ask the workers at the counter about a taxi. I’m sure they can help you out.

  20. My wife, daughter and I visited the Monkey Park few weeks ago 12/30/2017. Fastest way to get there is to take the bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano Station. When you arrived at Nagano Station take the stairs or escalator to the ground floor where the buses are located. Take the BUS number 3, no need for bus tickets you pay the driver before boarding the bus 1800 ($17.00) depends on current exchange rate. Make sure you get enough YEN before exiting the airport. Bus takes you to the park non-stop. Make sure you wear appropriate snow boots, roads are very slick. You can also rent boots at the store by the park around $3-4. 1.6 Km or a lil over 1 mile hike to the top where the Monkeys are. Go early before the crowd hits, it gets packed with tourists. We spent probably 3-4 hours up there but will come back someday and spend a little more time with these creatures.

    • Gino,
      Thanks for the great tips. Yes, you can purchase tickets on the bus but the Snow Monkey Pass can be more economical if you are traveling round trip from Nagano.

  21. Huge thanks for your post. It’s absolutely helpful in planning. I am visiting in May. Would you happen to know if the Snow Monkey Park is still open then or do they only operate in the winter?

  22. Hi Anthony. wow! you seem to be very knowledgeable about the Nagano and the snow monkey area. I wonder if you can guide me to the best scenario for me. I am going to Nagano in mid April 2018. I plan to reach Nagano around 9:30 and tour Zenkoji temple. Then I would like to visit the snow monkeys. ( I have reservations for the night at Yuyado Sekiya ) Here is my problem. I am wondering if I should go to Yudanaka, have the staff of Yuyado Sekiya pick me up and then walk to the monkey park. OR should I go straight to the monkey park from Nagano and then just catch a taxi Yuyado Sekiya. Which way do you think is easiest and would give me more time at the snow monkey park? IF i were to go straight to the snow monkey park, how would I go? bus or train? The bus seems so much easier.. but is it running often in April? Thank you!

    • Sharon,
      It seems that Yuyado Sekiya is only a 5 minute walk the from Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi bus stop. I would recommend taking the bus from Nagano Station to the bus stop, walk to Yuyado Sekiya, drop off your luggage, and continue walking to the snow monkey park.

  23. Hi Anthony, thank you so much for this info! I probably wouldn’t have managed to go without it. How long does the Nagaden bus from Nagano station to Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi take? Google maps doesn’t recognise it at all. Thanks in advance!

  24. Hi Anthony,

    Do you think the weather is too warm in Mid April to visit? I am wondering if it’s worth trekking to Nagano to see these monkeys when I can see the same ones in Kyoto? I know there are no hot springs in Kyoto but during April will the monkeys still be cold enough to want to go into the hot springs in Nagano?


    • Sunny,

      The park will be open but by mid-April, the snow should be gone. I have never visited other than the winter but I heard when the weather is too warm, the monkies might not use the hot spring. In April, the weather should still be cold enough for them but if you can see them in Kyoto, maybe that is the better option.

  25. Hello Anthony, thanks for your valuable information. It’s very useful to plan for our trip in mid-Feb. We are still debating if we should go to the monkey park. We live in California and don’t do cold weather very well. Does it snow a lot in Feb? What kinds of gears should we get? Is Uber available in Nagano? Thanks!

    • Jo,
      It snows a lot in February in Nagano, and yes it will be cold, but there is something special about visiting the snow monkey park when it is covered in snow. This is the time you want to visit. I am also from California and don’t handle cold weather too well, but I think it would be a mistake if you missed this experience. While you won’t need any special gear, just make sure your shoes or boots have good traction. I wore tennis shoes and I was fine, but the trail can get a little slippery in parts. Unfortunately, Uber is not available in Nagano.


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