On our second day in Shiga Kogen trip, we went to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park which is located in Yamanouchi, Nagano. After showering and having breakfast at the hotel, we decided to check-out before going out since the check-out time limit is at 10 am. Luggages can be stored in a coin locker at the basement (same as the locker we used when we go skiing). To save money, we only use 1 locker to store all of our bags (locker price is ¥300).
We used bus to get to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. By the way we bought a Snow Monkey Park ticket voucher at the reception and asked for the bus departure schedule. The voucher price is ¥1,000/person includes the round-trip bus ticket from Shiga Kogen – Snow Monkey Park Bus Stop and a discount voucher for the Snow Monkey Park souvenir shop or Enza café. It’s cheaper to buy bus ticket voucher because the bus fare from Shiga Kogen to Jigokudani is quite pricey. These vouchers are valid from December 17, 2018 – April 1, 2019. After received some information from the receptionist, we headed to Hotaru Onsen stop, where we take the bus later. At certain hours there is a free shuttle bus to Yamanoeki. The shuttle bus also stops at several hotels, so if you are staying in another hotel but want to ski in Yokoteyama, you can take this shuttle bus.
After arrived at Yamanoeki, we had to change to another bus which passing Snow Monkey Park. You can ask the bus driver to make sure whether the bus passes Snow Monkey Park or not. Buses in Shiga Kogen area are different with Tokyo, we pay and get down from the front door. It’s different from the bus in Tokyo which we pay when we get on the bus and get off from the side door. Because we had a bus voucher, we just tore the departure ticket and handed it to the driver.
We got off at Snow Monkey Park Bus Stop, from there we walked about 9 minutes to get to the mountain road heading to Snow Monkey Park. Well, from the bus stop to the entrance of mountain road, the road is still nice and paved. From the entrance to the gate of Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park the road is quite bad, because it passes through mountain road and quite steep. The width of the road is only about 2 meters and was muddy because the snow melts. The trip takes around 30-40 minutes. Therefore, it is advisable to wear appropriate clothes and shoes, do not use heels or sandals. Don’t walk in a hurry too, but walk slowly while enjoying the scenery around.
After 30 minutes of walking we finally arrived at the main entrance gate. Jigokudani itself means Hell Valley because it is located on a steep cliff and the steam coming off the springs in everywhere. The snow monkeys here live wildly and roam freely on the mountain. This park provides food so that during day time the monkeys will come for food. This park has no fence so the monkeys can come and go freely. But please keep in your mind that all the monkeys there are wild monkeys that just stop by the park. So there are some rules that visitors must obey in park area. Visitors are prohibited from touching monkeys, showing and giving food, disturbing or scaring the monkey, using selfie sticks, and bringing other animals or pets.
At Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park you can see monkeys bathing in hot springs. While waiting for the feeding time, the monkeys will sometimes bathe in hot spring. They bathe in winter because the weather is too cold. In other seasons they are rarely take a bath. The monkeys here also have their own life outside the park, so it is possible that the monkeys stay in the mountain all day long and not coming to the park at all. In winter, it is more difficult to find food on mountain so they will go down to the park to eat and bathe.
There are no restaurants or shops here that sell food. There is only one main building that is used as souvenirs shop, toilet, and small lockers to store luggage. There are some restaurants near the bus stop. After enjoying the park, we walked back to the bus stop. Along the mountain road you can see the mountain covered in snow, but be careful if you want to take photos here. Don’t get in the way of other visitors. Before heading to the bus stop we stopped by Enza café first. We bought soft ice cream with Milk and Shinshu Apples flavor. It tastes really good, I love the apple flavor. The price is around ¥350. At the café they also sell some drinks, ramen, fried chicken, and other snacks.
For lunch we decided to go back to the hotel and bought cup noodles. Inside the hotel there are several vending machines that sell cup noodles and various drinks. If you want to eat cup noodles, no need to worry because hot water and chopsticks are available on the machine. There are also several tables and chairs available for people who want to enjoy cup noodles. One cup noodles costs ¥250. As for drinks, prices vary from ¥100 – ¥200. At 3 pm we gathered again at the bus stop to get on the bus which take us back to Shinjuku. That’s all for our trip at Shiga Kogen, thank you for reading.