- Witness one of Nagano’s most unique and boisterous local festivals – the Azumino O-Fune Matsuri – as residents propel highly decorated festival floats toward battle in front of the beautiful Hotaka Shrine!
- Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and learn all about what makes the resident monkeys so unique
- Enjoy lunch at a restaurant nearby the monkey park and experience Nagano’s renowned food culture
|Destination||Snow Monkey Park Hotaka Shrine Azumino|
|Start / End||Nagano Station / Nagano Station|
|Operator||Snow Monkey Resorts|
Taking place each year in September, the Azumino O-Fune Matsuri or ‘Azumino Boat Festival’ is a spirited and raucous celebration of the rural community’s mythical origins. Said to have been populated by people who came across the sea, the festival sees townsfolk pull decorated boats toward each other, choreographed to collide in front of Hotaka Shrine. Including reserved seating at the festival, along with a visit to Nagano’s world-famous Snow Monkey Park and lunch, this fun one-day tour promises to introduce you to rural Japan in a very local (and somewhat wild) way!
08:30 Meetup with your guide at JR Nagano Station
The tour begins at JR Nagano Station at 08:30, where your guide will greet you and quickly have you on your way out of Nagano and headed toward the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
09:45 Arrive at the Snow Monkey park area
Arriving nearby the park, your guide will lead you along the forest trail which leads you to the ‘Jigokudani Valley’ – rather dramatically translating to ‘Hell’s Valley’.
10:15 Arrive at the Snow Monkey Park
Home to the only troop of monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience.
11:15 Depart the park and walk back out along the forest trail.
It’s time to head to lunch at a nearby restaurant.
12:00 Lunch at a nearby restaurant.
As one of Japan’s largest food producing regions, Nagano’s food culture is renowned and your guide will always be happy to talk all things food as you sit down to an enjoyable autumn lunch around 13:00.
12:45 Depart the restaurant and board the tour bus bound for Azumino.
Well-filled by lunch you then board the tour bus and make your way toward Azumino. Set against the dramatic background of the Northern Alps, this beautiful rural area is well-known among Japanese and only now coming to the attention of international visitors.
14:15 Arrive at Hotaka Shrine and be guided to your reserved seating.
It is said that Azumino takes it names from the ‘Azumi’ people, a clan of skilled navigators who travelled from the distant south to settle away from the coast, on fertile plains 500 meters above sea level – with dramatic peaks rising to over 3000 meters above. The voyage is said to have taken place during the 7th century and to this day is celebrated annually in the much-loved ‘Azumino O-Fune Matsuri’.
Taking place over two days, the highlight of the festival occurs on the second day when local residents pull large and colorfully decorated floats resembling the fabled ships that once sailed from the south, toward a boisterous but well-spirited battle in from of Hotaka Shrine.
15:00 The battle begins as local residents pull the floats toward the shrine and clash with dramatic, symbolic force.
Your guide will take you around the beautiful shrine before having you in your reserved seat to witness the battle of the boats between 15:00 and 16:00. With one ship considered male and the other female, the collision of the two is symbolic of a wish for fertility and the successful continuation of the Azumino community. Local, loud, and a whole lot of fun, this festival is a great way to experience Japanese culture at its most enjoyable!
16:00 The battle concludes and board the tour bus to return to Nagano.
Once festivities have drawn to a close, your guide will have you back onboard the tour bus and headed back to JR Nagano Station
17:30 The tour concludes at JR Nagano Station.
Nagano Station - At the Information Board across from the Shinkansen exit gates
- Transportation fee from Nagano to the Snow Monkey Park and Azumino O-Fune Festival
- Snow Monkey Park entrance fee
- Reserved seat at the Azumino O-Fune Festival
- Lunch (vegetarian options are available, please let us know beforehand)
- English-speaking guide
- Additional food, snacks and drinks
- Shinkasen/Bullet train tickets
- 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.
- Infants (0-5) are welcome to join the tour free of charge and as such, do not receive lunch. If food is required, please order and pay directly at the restaurant.
- The tour application deadline is 5 days before the tour at 17:00.