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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Snow Monkey Park in Nagano

When my husband and I were planning for our trip to Japan we had a few times on our to-do list that we have never done before. One of the things we wanted to do was to go up to Nagano to stay at an onsen (hot spring resort) and visit the Snow Monkey Park. Once we landed in Japan we stayed the night in Tokyo but headed out to Nagano in the morning by shinkansen (bullet train). We left at about 10 A.M. and arrived at Nagano station by noon.

We roamed the city for a while, exploring the streets of Nagano. The city's vibe kind of reminded me of Kyoto in a way, so Nagano made a good impression on me. After our exploration, we took the local subway line to the Yudanaka stop where we met up with our hotel guide person. He drove us to our ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) that was located right off the Yokoyu River where all the ryokan are located. Our ryokan, Shibu Hotel, was a part of a strip with several onsen to soak in. We were tired from traveling so we just stayed at our ryokan and enjoyed their onsen.

The next morning we woke up to take a trip to the Snow Monkey Park after checking out. Our ryokan had a driver who brought us the the mountain they call Jigokudani Valley. He could only take us as far as cars were permitted. He provided us with boots and umbrellas since it was raining in November when we went (cold and wet, no snow). We had to hike our way to the park. Going to the park was very tiring for me, who doesn't go outdoors too much. It was difficult going up the slopes as it was a 2 km hike. But it was all very rewarding when we reached Snow Monkey Park.

There was an entrance fee of about $5 per person. Once we paid and got our tickets we were immediately welcomed by a few monkeys who were on the trail. People were immediately taking pictures, including us. What we didn't know was the amount of monkeys we were about to come across further up the trail. When we reached the end of the trail there were several wild snow monkeys. Some were bathing in the hot springs while other were playing outside the water. I've seen many pictures online of the Snow Monkey Park but was astonished to see it for myself. It was a great experience.

There were many people there to see the monkeys, both Japanese and foreign tourists. We were allowed to take as many pictures and videos as we liked but we were forbidden to feed the monkeys since they are considered wild animals. Good thing for that because the monkeys had to fear of getting really close to people. They are used to people and kind of just go about their business.

My husband and I spent about 30 minutes watching the monkeys before making the journey back down to where the bus dropped us off. When we reached the bottom we were pretty cold and tired. We visited a souvenir shop at the bottom of the trail and then got food at a tourist stop. We warmed ourselves up with delicious ramen and had the local apple flavored soft served ice cream. Everything was very refreshing. We asked a worker at the rest stop if she could call our hotel to pick us up. She had no problem calling and letting us wait inside. Once the driver came he had our shoes ready for us to change in. From the rest stop he brought us to the station and helped us purchase our tickets as we were looking for the fastest way to get back to Nagano station.

I wouldn't mind doing it all over again. We had a great time and enjoyed the scenery up in the mountains. Hopefully I'll be able to visit Nagano again in the future. I really do recommend you to visit the Snow Monkey Park if you like animals.

I hope you all enjoyed this blog post. Maybe you'll now want to take a trip up to Nagano Prefecture and visit the monkeys. I'll be doing more blog posts like these so definitely keep up with my blog and my social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks for reading!