|Period||Sun & Weds / Apr - Nov|
|Destination||Zenko-ji Temple Snow Monkey Park Kiso Valley Narai Ochiai Magome Tsumago|
|Start / End||Nagano Station / Nagano Station|
|Operator||Snow Monkey Resorts|
Situated in between the popular destinations of Tokyo and Kyoto, the mountainous of region of Nagano is the literal heart of Japan and a road less traveled by many international visitors. Beginning and ending in Nagano, this 3-day tour combines visits to the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and Zenko-ji – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan – on Day 1, before transporting back in time to the historic Nakasendo Trail and the beautifully preserved towns of Narai, Magome and Tsumago on Days 2 and 3. Including accommodation in Magome, lunch on each day, and an English-speaking guide, this immersive 3-day combines some of region’s most popular destinations while taking you off the beaten path and along one of ancient trade roads of Japan, deep into the heart of this fascinating country and culture.
Day 1 09:35 Meetup with your guide and make your way to Zenko-ji Temple
Your guide will meet you at JR Nagano Station at 09:35 (the guide will be waiting from 09:20 onward) and from there head to Zenko-ji. As a registered National Treasure, the temple is the most important cultural site in Nagano and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in the entire country!
11:45 Lunch at a nearby restaurant followed by a guided sake tasting
It’s then time for lunch! Depending on the time of year we use different restaurants, each serving cuisine highlighting the best of Nagano’s renowned food culture. From delicious and warming beef, chicken, or vegetarian hot pot in the winter months, to mixed sushi plates and Nagano-style chicken or seasonal grilled vegetables through spring to autumn, your guide will assure you are well fed and ready to indulge in some ‘sake’.
14:00 Arrive nearby the Snow Monkey Park from where your guide will lead you along the trail into the park
Your guide will take you along the forest trail which leads to the park and into Jigokudani. Home to the only troop of monkeys in the entire world known to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience.
15:40 Begin your journey back to Nagano
The tour returns to Nagano City where the day concludes with drop-off at your accommodation
Day 2 08:30 You will be collected from the lobby of Hotel Kokusai 21 and be transported toward the Kiso Valley
Known as ‘Narai Senken’ or ‘Narai of a Thousand Houses’, this beautifully preserved town marked the midpoint of Nakasendo – the thirty-fourth of sixty-nine stations which monitored, controlled, and taxed traffic along the road. Today the remaining historic town runs approximately 1km in length and is 200 meters wide, home to numerous shops, restaurants, traditional accommodation and peoples’ homes.
13:30 Board the tour bus and drive along the Narai River to Ochiai.
At approximately 13:30 it’s time to board the tour bus and follow the beautiful Narai River toward your next stop, Ochiai. Well-filled by lunch, it’s the perfect chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery and relax, as you are whisked toward Ochiai, from where you will enjoy the first walking segment of the tour.
16:30 Begin your hike from Ochiai to Magome
The walk from Ochiai to Magome is a comfortable walk of approximately 1 hour in duration. Leading you initially through a cedar forest and then back into the open and past rice fields and homes, this section of the Nakasendo retains some of the last remaining paving stones and is a road less travelled by visitors – the perfect place to get an appreciation for the original route and start walking!
Arriving at Magome around 16:15 to 16:30, your guide will accompany you to your guesthouse – where your luggage will be waiting – before wishing you good evening to enjoy the town and dinner at your accommodation.
Day 3 09:30 Meetup with your guide and explore Magome
You’ll have time to explore the town which has been extensively restored including a broad stone walkway lined by museums, traditional stores, and restaurants interspersed with regular homes. Around 10:00 you’ll start the second days walking, a longer and more energetic 7.6km trail to Tsumago.
12:30 Arrive at Tsumago and enjoy a well-earned lunch at a local restaurant before explore Nakasendo's best preserved post town.
As the forest thins and the landscape opens up, you will arrive in Tsumago – the 42nd post town and your final destination. Your guide will first take you for a well-deserved lunch followed by time to explore perhaps the best preserved and enchanting of the post towns for yourself.
15:30 Meetup with your guide and board the tour bus to begin your journey back toward Nagano
At 15:30 you’ll meetup with your guide and board the tour bus to begin the journey back to Nagano. Stopping along the way to break-up the journey, you’ll be transported directly to JR Nagano Station, where the tour is scheduled to conclude by 19:00.
Nagano Station - At the Information Board across from the Shinkansen exit gates
- Transportation fee from/to Nagano, Snow Monkey Park and the Nakasendo Trail and all between activities/attractions
- Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
- Lunch on Day 1 to Day 3 (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
- Sake tasting on Day 1
- Accommodation on Day 1 (including breakfast) and Day 2 (including dinner and breakfast)
- English-speaking guide
- Dinner on Day 1 or Day 3
- Accommodation on Day 3
- Additional food and snacks
- Optional entrance fee to the inner sanctuary of Zenko-ji
- Shinkasen/Bullet train tickets
- During the winter it is common to see the Snow Monkeys enjoying the hot spring bath, however from spring up to autumn there will be times where the monkeys play or eat in the water, however please note that the monkeys are wild animals and there is no guarantee that there will be monkeys in the bath.
- There are a few days in the year that the monkeys might not come down to the park. In such case we will provide an alternative activity.
- Please wear suitable shoes/boots and clothing for hiking through varying terrain. The trail is well-maintained and paved in some areas with other sections being more challenging. The trail is undulating with some steeper climbs however it is suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness.
- Please be prepared for changing weather conditions including rain (anytime of year but especially in June and July) and hot, humid condition from late-June until September. Kiso Valley is a mountainous region therefore weather can change quickly. Paving stones on the trail can be slick during the rain. Please ensure that you are wearing good quality walking boots/shoes and if required, carry walking poles.
- Accommodation on Day 1 is at a full-service hotel in Nagano City with rooms including Western-style bedding and private bathroom.
- Accommodation on Day 2 is at a traditional guesthouse including futon bedding (on the floor) and shared bathrooms, typical of a traditional Japanese inn.
- The tour application deadline is 2 days before the tour date at 17:00.