We wanted to see snow and experience White Christmas so together with our family friends, we went to Nagano. The prefecture of Nagano is a popular winter tourist destination especially after it hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. We took the Kagayaki Shinkansen to Nagano Station and then rode the Nagano-Dentetsu Line to Yudanaka Station. We stayed in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn that has tatami-matted rooms, communal and private baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata and talk with the owner.

our room in the ryokan

On our first Day, we visited Jigokudani Monkey Park which was around 10 mins from our ryokan. Transfers to and from the monkey park was free so that was a plus. To meet the snow monkeys, there was a 30-40 min hike which we didn’t mind as the scene was absolutely beautiful. We were very lucky to see a lot of Japanese macaques bathing in the hot spring. According to our ryokan owner, the monkeys only bathe there when it is cold and there’s a possibility that you’ll go and you won’t see any monkeys in the hot spring. So plan ahead and make sure to visit in the peak of winter. There’s also an official live camera where you can check the situation in the snow monkey park. It is better to check that first before you start your hike.

Mother and baby Japanese Macaques
Mandatory family picture, Jigokudani Valley in the background

For Day 2, we had a whole day of snow play and adventure at Ryuoo Ski Park. We rode the free shuttle from Yudanaka Station to the ski park. We rented sleds for JPY 500 each and played in the snow the whole morning. We were the only ones in the adventure park so that was big plus. We ate Katsu-Kare for lunch at the restaurant by the base of the Ski park. After lunch, we rode a snow caterpillar that brought us to the cable car station and took the cable car to reach the Sora Terrace. It is a viewing platform at the top of the mountain and the view was superb.

For our last daty, we rode the dentetsu line back to Nagano Station and from there, we took the Shinano Line to reach Matsumoto Station. We took a bus from the station to reach Matsumoto Castle. This is a uniquely beautiful castle as it’s exterior is black and it still maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework.

We enjoyed our holiday trip and definitely recommend visiting this place during winter time. If you want to watch our whole adventure. check out my youtube vlog below and don’t forget to subscribe!