After 15 months here in Tokyo, we are pretty comfortable getting around the city by train. It is very easy, really… Using the reloadable Suica transit card, we just tap to go through the gates. Maps and signage are in English as well as Japanese, and the trains are comfortable, safe, and clean. Last weekend, we ventured outside of Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train), and spent the long weekend in Nagano — see previous post, “Seeing Japan.” It was a fun and interesting trip, and on Sunday while we were there, we went to the Jigokudani Yaen Koen… the Snow Monkey Park.
From Nagano, we had to arrange transit to the park which is about an hour outside of the city, in the mountains. We found brochures (in English!) in our hotel lobby, and looked at options for traveling to the park. Lol… the options can be really confusing, and we learned a few things this weekend. So… if you ever plan to visit Nagano, and the Snow Monkeys… here are some suggestions:
- We had planned to just buy bus tickets, admission tickets, etc. as we went along, but when we went to the bus stop, in teeny-tiny print on the bottom of the sign, we saw a note about the all-inclusive “Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass!” Better deal, more options. The brochure from the hotel didn’t mention this at all.
- But… it is only good for the day of purchase…
- And you have to buy it from the Nagano Dentetsu Subway Station… on the other side of the station from the bus terminal.
- We got the tickets, and stood in line for the bus… which also goes to the Shiga Kogen Ski Area.
- After the monkey park, you can either catch the return highway bus, OR… take a local bus to Yudanaka Station in Yamanouchi-machi. Interesting little resort town… Lots of onsens (hot spring public baths), lunch places and shops. Worth a visit. We had a nice lunch at HAKKO, a little bar, with excellent local craft beer.
- From Yudanaka Station, you can get the Nagano Dentetsu Line train back to Nagano, or stop off in other interesting towns along the way. The 1-Day pass includes information on all of these train stops.
We enjoyed our visit to the Snow Monkey Park — They are actually Japanese Macaques… the northern-most species of wild primates. Following are some of our photos: