We worked out before we booked our trip that we wanted to see the snow monkeys that bathed in hot springs, and had researched how to get there before we left, but were a little uncertain even on the day we left.
Walk to the Snow Monkeys
It turned out to be easy to get there. We took a train from Shibuya to Nagano and when we asked we were directed to the tourist booth, where we were given a special Monkey Park pamphlet, which contained everything we needed to know.
We were advised the cheapest way to both get there and into the park was to purchase a day pass, which we did from a special booth at the train station. You get to the park via bus, which takes around forty minutes.
First snow Monkey Sighting
From the entrance, which is a short clearly posted walk from the bus stop, it is around thirty minutes’ walk to the Hot Springs where the monkeys bathe.
The walk, particularly during winter, is a sheer joy, through a gorgeous snow laden natural forest. It was a nice day, though a little windy, and each time a small gust would blow a flurry of snow would be lifted from the nearby trees and sprinkled lightly over us.
The trek in was fairly easy, though care needed to be taken not to slip on the icy track.
Bathing Snow Monkeys
We arrived at the Hot Springs and saw our first monkey in the trees near the park admin building. We exchanged our tickets and were advised of the correct behavior around the monkeys, which was not to feed them or get in their way at all. They generally ignored humans, but if you upset them they let you know with a sharp hiss and chase if they spooked you into running away.
After a couple of hours we walked back to the park entrance where we stopped to rest in a restaurant. We ate some hot udon and took it easy for a bit before making the trek back to Shibuya.
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