- Witness the festivities (and craziness) of one of Japan’s most famous fire festivals – the Nozawa Onsen ‘Dosojin Matsuri’ – and enjoy exploring the popular and lively ski resort village at night
- Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and meet the only monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs
- Enjoy an early and warming dinner one of the region’s best restaurants and indulge in Nagano’s renowned food and ‘sake’ culture
- With alternative pick-up and drop-off points at Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal and JR Nagano Station
|Destination||Snow Monkey Park Nozawa Onsen|
|Start / End||Nagano Station/Hakuba Bus Terminal / Nagano Station/Hakuba Bus Terminal|
|Operator||Snow Monkey Resorts|
In the midst Nagano’s cold white winter, there is one festival that is sure to set things alight and burn bright into the night! The Nozawa Onsen ‘Dosojin Matsuri’ is one of Japan’s three great fire festivals, taking place every January in the popular ski resort village. This tour takes to you to and from Nozawa Onsen to enjoy one of the Nagano’s most popular festivals in combination with an earlier visit to the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and early dinner to energize for the festivities to come! Including alternate pick-up points in Hakuba and Nagano City, this tour will long in the memory, long after the fire has burnt away!
11:45 Pick-up at Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal
Your guide will greet you and quickly have you board the tour bus to begin your journey toward the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.
14:15 Arrive at the trail entrance to the Snow Monkey Park
Arriving nearby the park at approximately 14:15, your guide will lead you along the snow-covered forest trail (1.6km/1 mile) and introduce you to the only troop of monkeys in the world knowns to bathe in ‘onsen’ (natural hot springs). With no barriers between you and the monkeys, you can observe them in close proximity as they go about their lives in the deep snow and cold of winter; which of course in winter involves a lot of soaking in the hot spring!
15:45 Leave the snow-covered Snow Monkey Park and enjoy an early dinner
Your visit to the park is followed by an early dinner at one of the region’s best restaurants, Hotaru-tei. Housed in a refurbished 160 year old manion, Hotaru-tei provides an atmospheric and cosy refuge from the snow outside, as you are served a filling dinner to prepare you for the night to come. While there, your guide will explain about the festival – its meaning, history, and some helpful tips – to make sure you get the most out of your time in Nozawa Onsen.
18:20 Arrival at Nozawa Onsen. Enjoy free time to explore the hot spring village
Boarding the tour bus it’s time to make the journey to Nozawa to witness one of Japan’s three great fire festivals! Arriving at approximately 18:20, your guide will help you get your bearings by setting a meet-up place and time, and then walking all tours guests to the festival grounds to show where the main festivities will take place, pointing-out the best places to watch from. From that point, the evening is yours to explore the lively village!
19:00 The preparations for the fire festival start with the bringing of the fire, the singing of songs, drumming, fireworks, and more.
Preparations start at 19:00, with singing, drumming, fireworks and more. Then it’s time for the main event! The town converges on a wooden shrine, defended by men the ages of 25 and 42, said to be in unlucky years and therefore the charged with the shrines defence from the other villagers, who storm the structure with flaming bales of hay intent on its destruction.
20:00 The battle begins! The unluckily-aged defenders do their best to stop the attackers coming at them with a barrage of fire.
Fueled by tradition, bravado, and booze, the battle takes place with embers falling over the crowd and very little distinguishing onlookers from participants.
After finally, after the gods have been deemed happy and ready to bless the villagers with good luck, harvest, and happiness in the year to come, the shrine is set alight.
22:00 End of the festival! The shrine is set alight. Meet with your guide at the meeting point at 22:45 and leave for Nagano and Hakuba.
With festivities winding-down around 20:15, you meet-up with your guide and board the tour bus at depart Nozawa at 22:45. Feel free to fall asleep as we transport you back to your preferred drop-off point of JR Nagano Station at 23:45 or Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 01:00*, where the tour concludes.
Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal / JR Nagano Station Information Board
- Transportation fee from and back to Hakuba and Nagano Station to the Snow Monkey Park and between activities/attractions
- Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
- Early dinner (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
- English-speaking guide
- Foods/drinks unless stated otherwise (there are many vendors at the festival so you can choose freely from what is available there)
- There will be a lot of walking on paved and unpaved roads so please wear suitable shoes.
- 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. It will be cold in January in Nagano with likely snowfall and temperatures falling below 0 degrees. The cold is especially apparent at night so please wear warm clothes and shoes fit for winter. Please also note that burning cinders may be floating in the air during the festival and clothes can be damaged.
- This is a popular and crowded festival. It will not be possible for your guide to be with you at all times and there is no reserved seating/observation area. Please ensure that you watch the festivities from a safe distance/location and follow the festival rules, as instructed by your guide.
- This is a family-friendly cultural tour, not a drinking tour. Consumption of alcohol is not allowed on the tour bus and we request that guests do not become intoxicated at the festival. Guests who are intoxicated can be refused carriage on the tour bus.
- For those joining the tour from JR Nagano Station, arrival back to Nagano Station will be around midnight so our recommendation is to stay overnight at Nagano City. Shinkansen/bullet train services will have ended by the time the tour returns to the station.
- Drop-off in Hakuba will be at the Happo Bus Terminal at approximately 01:00. Drop-off at other locations, including directly at your accommodation will not be possible.
- The tour application deadline is 2 days before the tour date at 17:00.