Nagano, the heart of the Japanese Alps, beckons with a treasure trove of natural and cultural wonders. Set out on a captivating one-day excursion that unveils the region’s captivating highlights. From the historic Zenko-ji Temple, where you’ll uncover intricate carvings and touch the ‘key to paradise,’ to a guided sake tasting experience that delves into the nuances of rice varieties and brewing techniques. But the true showstopper awaits at the Snow Monkey Park, where you’ll witness the mesmerizing sight of Japanese macaques bathing in natural hot springs. Seamless transportation and a delectable lunch complete this immersive adventure, leaving you with memories that will linger long after the day’s end.

Key Points

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Key Points

  • Explore the 1400-year-old Zenko-ji Temple, one of Japan’s most important, with a guided tour of the main hall and underground passage.
  • Participate in a sake tasting experience to learn about the influence of rice varieties, brewing techniques, and water on the traditional Japanese drink.
  • Witness the captivating sight of Japanese macaques bathing in the natural hot springs of Jigokudani Park, commonly known as the Snow Monkey Park.
  • Be prepared for winter conditions, as the trail to the Snow Monkey Park may become icy and slippery, requiring proper footwear and warm layers.
  • Opt for the convenient shuttle service from Hakuba during the winter season to avoid navigating the potentially hazardous trail to the Snow Monkey Park.

Overview of the Excursion

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Overview of the Excursion

This full-day excursion near Nagano, Japan, provides visitors with the opportunity to explore some of the region’s top attractions, including the historic Zenko-ji Temple and the captivating Snow Monkey Park.

Earning a Badge of Excellence from over 500 reviews, this tour offers a well-rounded experience that showcases the best of Nagano.

Guests will embark on a guided tour of the tranquil Zenko-ji Temple grounds, learn about the art of sake brewing during a tasting, and witness the unique sight of macaques bathing in hot springs at the Snow Monkey Park.

With transportation, lunch, and entry fees included, this excursion is a hassle-free way to discover the highlights of Nagano in just one day.

Exploring the Zenko-ji Temple

The guided tour of the 1400-year-old Zenko-ji Temple provides visitors with a captivating glimpse into the heart of Japan’s rich Buddhist heritage.

Considered one of the country’s most important temples, Zenko-ji’s tranquil grounds are a testament to the enduring spiritual traditions that have shaped this sacred site over the centuries.

The tour highlights:

  1. The temple’s main hall, an architectural marvel featuring intricate carvings and gilded details.

  2. The underground passage, where visitors can touch the ‘key to paradise’ and make a wish.

  3. The serene gardens, where visitors can find moments of peace and contemplation.

  4. The impressive collection of Buddhist statues and artifacts, each with its own fascinating history.

Guided Sake Tasting Experience

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Guided Sake Tasting Experience

A guided sake tasting offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the rich and storied world of Japan’s national beverage.

At the local brewery, knowledgeable experts guide participants through the intricacies of sake production, sharing insights into the traditional methods and flavors that have made this drink an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries.

Guests learn how different rice varieties, brewing techniques, and even the mineral content of the water can influence a sake’s aroma, acidity, and overall character.

The tasting allows them to sample a variety of sakes, from crisp, dry junmai to smooth, full-bodied ginjo.

It’s an immersive experience that leaves everyone with a deeper appreciation for this revered Japanese libation.

Witnessing the Snow Monkeys

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Witnessing the Snow Monkeys

Nestled in the serene forests of Jigokudani Park, visitors can witness the captivating sight of Japanese macaques, locally known as ‘snow monkeys,’ as they bathe in the natural hot springs, a remarkable adaptation to the region’s chilly winters. Descending a scenic 1.6km (1 mile) forest trail, guests are rewarded with the unique privilege of observing these fascinating primates in their natural habitat.

The snow monkeys’ relaxed, almost human-like behavior as they soak in the steaming waters is a mesmerizing experience.

To make the most of this opportunity, visitors should:

  1. Dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear for the snowy terrain.
  2. Bring a camera to capture the snow monkeys’ playful antics.
  3. Respect the animals’ space and avoid disturbing them.
  4. Follow the guidance of the park’s knowledgeable staff.

Included Transportation and Meals

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Included Transportation and Meals

Alongside the opportunity to witness the captivating snow monkeys, this full-day excursion near Nagano includes comprehensive transportation and dining arrangements to facilitate a seamless and enjoyable experience for visitors.

Roundtrip transportation from designated pickup points is provided, ensuring hassle-free travel to and from the day’s activities.

A delicious lunch is also included, allowing guests to refuel and recharge between exploring the Zenko-ji Temple and indulging in a guided sake tasting.

The tour’s logistics are meticulously planned, catering to the needs of participants and maximizing the time spent engaging with the region’s cultural and natural wonders.

With these elements taken care of, visitors can fully enjoy the day’s highlights.

Winter Conditions and Accessibility

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Winter Conditions and Accessibility

Despite the enchanting winter scenery, visitors should be mindful that inclement weather conditions can potentially impact the accessibility and ease of navigation along the 1.6km forest trail leading to the Snow Monkey Park.

The trail may become icy and slippery, requiring proper winter footwear and extra caution. Plus, heavy snowfall could restrict access or even temporarily close the park.

Dress warmly in layers to stay comfortable in the chilly temperatures.

Be prepared for wet and muddy conditions on the trail.

Check the latest park updates and weather forecasts before your visit.

Inquire about shuttle service availability from Hakuba during the winter months.

Shuttle Service From Hakuba

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Shuttle Service From Hakuba

During the winter months, visitors have the option of utilizing a shuttle service from the nearby town of Hakuba to reach the Snow Monkey Park. This convenient transportation solution allows travelers to avoid navigating the potentially icy and treacherous trail leading to the park, especially if heavy snowfall has affected the conditions.

The shuttle runs on a regular schedule, ensuring a seamless journey for those who’d prefer not to tackle the snowy forest path on their own. While the trail remains accessible, the shuttle service provides a hassle-free alternative for those concerned about winter weather or seeking a more comfortable experience.

This option is available exclusively during the colder months when the Snow Monkey Park is most popular.

Tour Logistics and Details

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano - Tour Logistics and Details

The tour provides a comprehensive package, with transportation, lunch, and all entry fees included to ensure a seamless experience for visitors. While the tour isn’t wheelchair accessible, a moderate level of walking is required to fully enjoy the sights.

Visitors should be prepared for potential winter conditions, as the trail and park access may be affected. To cater to those staying in Hakuba, a shuttle service is available during the winter months.

The tour offers the following logistics:

  1. Includes round-trip transportation, lunch, and all entry fees.
  2. Moderate walking is required, and the tour isn’t wheelchair accessible.
  3. Winter conditions may impact trail and park access.
  4. Shuttle service from Hakuba is available during the winter season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Minimum Age Requirement for This Tour?

The tour doesn’t have a minimum age requirement. It’s suitable for all ages, though parents should consider their child’s ability to handle the moderate walking and winter conditions on the trail to the Snow Monkey Park.

Can I Bring My Own Food and Drinks on the Tour?

While you’re welcome to bring your own snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, the tour package includes lunch. Bringing your own food and beverages is not necessary, as the tour provides a complete dining experience.

How Many People Are Typically in a Tour Group?

Tour group sizes typically range from 8 to 20 people, providing an intimate experience while allowing for efficient logistics. The exact group size may vary depending on demand and the specific tour operator.

Can I Extend My Stay in Nagano After the Tour Ends?

Yes, visitors can extend their stay in Nagano after the tour ends. The tour operator can provide recommendations for additional accommodations and activities in the region to extend one’s trip and further explore the area.

Is It Possible to Visit the Snow Monkey Park on My Own?

Yes, it’s possible to visit the Snow Monkey Park on your own. The park’s located down a 1.6km forest trail, and you can access it independently without the guided tour. However, the park may be affected by winter conditions, so check beforehand.


This full-day excursion offers an immersive experience showcasing Nagano’s natural and cultural wonders.

Visitors will discover the historic Zenko-ji Temple, enjoy a guided sake tasting, and witness the captivating sight of snow monkeys bathing in hot springs.

With transportation, lunch, and all entry fees included, this hassle-free tour provides an opportunity to explore the region’s highlights in a single day, even during the winter when conditions can be accessible.

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