Nagano Day Tour: Zenko-ji Temple, Snow Monkeys, Sake Tasting

Cultural & Theme Tours in Japan

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4.9 out of 5

Tour description provided by Viator

Take in some of the highlights of Nagano with this engaging tour; starting with the world-famous snow monkeys of Jigokudani, the only troop of monkeys known to bathe in hot springs, before making your way to Zenko-ji Temple – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan, and concluding with sake tasting – a drink synonymous with Nagano. Led by an English-speaking guide and including lunch, this tour is a great way to glimpse the essence of the region in combination with your visit to the snow monkeys.
Running throughout the year, this tour takes in some of Nagano’s most famous highlights in an enjoyable day of discovery and fun. Your English-speaking guide will meet you at JR Nagano Station at 09:35 (the guide will be waiting from 09:20 onward) to transport you to the Snow Monkey Park where you will spend time with the world-famous monkeys. Your guide will take you along the forest trail leading to the park and into Jigokudani or “Hell’s Valley” – home of the snow monkeys. As the only troop of monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs, your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity.Your visit to the snow monkeys is followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant, where your guide will assist you in ordering (with vegetarian options available) and is always happy to discuss Nagano’s renowned food culture.After lunch, the tour heads to Zenko-ji Temple, one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan. Registered as National Treasure, it is a place of true historic importance and with all the legends and myths of a near 1400-year old complex! You will be guided around the temple before (time permitting) your guide will give you the opportunity to explore the surrounding precinct of smaller temples, shops, and restaurants by yourself.You then met up with your guide and the tour concludes with sake tasting nearby the temple. Nagano is synonymous with sake and no visit to this region is complete without delving into Japan’s most famous beverage. Mastering sake takes a life time of dedication. Dip you toes into this seductive world as your guide explains the process, terminology, and appreciation of Nagano’s renowned and award-winning sake.Warmed by the tasting, your guide will then accompany you back to JR Nagano Station where the tour concludes at approximately 17:30.Tour Itinerary: 09:35: Meet up at JR Nagano Station under the Information Board directly opposite of the Shinkansen ticket gates.10:45: Arrive at the Snow Monkey Park area. Prepare and walk along the forest trail (25-30 minutes) into the park.11:30: Arrival at the Snow Monkey Park. Enjoy watching the wild macaques bathing in the onsen and going about their lives. 13:00: Have lunch at a restaurant nearby the Snow Monkey Park.13:45: Leave the lunch restaurant and head to Zenko-ji Temple. 15:00: Arrival at Zenko-ji Temple and explore the precinct with your guide followed by (time permitting) 25-30 minutes of free time.16:30: Enjoy Japanese sake tasting led by your guide, nearby the temple.17:00  End sake tasting and head back toward the station.17:30  Tour concludes at JR Nagano Station.

What’s included

  • Transportation fee from Nagano to the Snow Monkey Park and between activities/attractions
  • Lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available, please try to let us know in advance)
  • Sake tasting
  • English-speaking accompanying staff

What’s not included

  • Bullet train tickets
  • Entrance fee to the attraction in Zenko-ji Temple


  • Soak up the atmosphere on a walking tour
  • Save on admission to selected attractions
  • Fully narrated tour
  • Day trip (destination A to B)
  • Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience
  • Lunch included
  • Vegetarian meal option available