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Specialists in Hakuba Ski Holidays
Japanese Wild Hot Spring Monkey tour
Most people have seen the snow monkeys on TV bathing in the hot springs at Jigokudani about 1&1/2hours from Hakuba. If you want to see the real thing it is very easy to do so on a day tour from Hakuba. You do need to allocate a full day though and to give up a day on the mountain. This will set you back at current rates ¥12,000 a person (¥8,000 for children). The tour usually includes transport, the park entry fee, lunch at a restaurant, a trip to the historical town of Obuse and a trip to the 1,400 yr old buddhist Zenkoji Temple. To get to the monkeys is a 30-45 minute walk along a forest trail (take sturdy shoes and warm clothing). If you are renting ski or snowboard gear we recommend you schedule your snow monkey tour for the last full day of your trip in Hakuba so you are not paying for a day of rentals that you won’t use. The tours typically leave around 8am and get back at 5pm. The following are 2 companies that run the snow monkey tour and that can be recommended.
Japan Ski Holidays
Runs daily tours from the middle of Dec till the end of Feb, and 4 days a week during March (Mon,Wed,Fri,Sat).
Do tours 4 days/week (Mon,Tue,Thur,Fri) from the middle of December till the middle of March.
Doing the trip by yourself
Another option is to do it yourself with public transport. It will only cost you ¥2,500 for the transport + ¥500 for the entry to the park. You need to get yourself to Happo Bus Terminal and purchase the Nagano Snow Resort pass for ¥2,500 which is a one day bus/train pass. You then get the express bus to Nagano station (1hr) and from there change to a bus going to Kanbayashi Onsen (40 mins). It is then about half hour walk to the mountains so you do need to allow a full day. .