"Nagano - Snow Monkeys, Soba and Miso Ice Cream" Nagano by chatterley
Nagano Travel Guide: 81 reviews and 184 photos
We came to Nagano to see the snow monkeys bathing in the hot spring. It was fun to see so many of them in the park. The temperature was very cold (sub zero deg C) and there were snow flurries falling down from the sky while we were at the park.
This trip to see these extraordinary animals was the highlight, and we spent quite a bit of time there, snapping pictures of the blissfully happy monkeys. Some of them were huddled together to withstand the cold, some were drinking from the hot spring, some were grooming each other, babies were clinging on to their mothers... and a fight broke out between two monkeys while we were there! Awesome drama.
Instead of staying in Nagano City, we took the local train (Nagano Dentetsu Line, or Nagaden for short) to travel 40 minutes away to the hot spring town of Yudanaka. Yudanaka is a quiet little hot spring resort town with few tourists.
Our stay was in a family-run, traditional Japanese ryokan - Shimaya Ryokan. The owner, Mr Yumoto, was extremely kind and offered to drive us to and back from the snow monkey park. We also get to eat free Nagano-produced Fuji apples and enjoyed the baths at the ryokan. The warm hospitality shown to us by Mr Yumoto left us with great memories of Nagano.
After returning to Nagano City, we took the bus to visit Zenkoji Temple and ate miso flavoured ice cream and soba (Nagano is famous for its soba).
If we should visit Japan again, we'll definitely return to Nagano as there are lots of other places to see and things to do:
Tsumago-juku and Narai-juku (Nagiso and Shiojiri) - to see the streetscenes dating back to the Edo period and eat Gohei rice cakes
Daio wasabi farm (Azumino) - to try the wasabi-flavoured ice cream
Shiraito Falls (Karuizawa) - the 70m-wide waterfall, a famous sightseeing spot
French bakery in Karuizawa - John Lennon is said to have bought French loaves from this place every morning, during his stay at Karuizawa
- Pros:Nature, History, Winter sports, Onsens, Soba and Fruits
- Cons:Cold winter season (snow and slippery roads)
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