Day 3 / 08 February 2016 (Monday) :
Train ride along Tadami Line Snow Monkey Park
Today we are supposed to ride the train along the Tadami Line to enjoy the snow blanketed view of the towns along this train line.
Photo from Japan-Magazine.jnto.go.jp
There are very limited trains passing along Tadami Line so being on schedule is very critical. I have prepared the following itinerary based on available train schedule in HyperDia
05:32 – 05:35 Asakusa (Tsukuba) Station to Minami-Senju Station (Tsukuba Express Local for Tsukuba)
05:44 – 05:50 Minami-Senju Station to Ueno Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line for Naka-Meguro)
06:14 – 07:35 Ueno Station (Depart track no. 20) to Urasa Station (Shinkansen Toki 301)
07:46 – 07:55 Urasa Station to Koide Station (JR Joetsu Line for NAGAOKA)
07:58 – 09:15 Koide Station to Tadami Station (JR Tadami Line for TADAMI)
09:25 – 10:15 Tadami Station to AizuKawaguchi Station (JR Tadami Line for AIZUKAWAGUCHI)
AIZU-KAWAGUCHI: Stay for 2 hour 20 minutes
12:35 – 14:27 AizuKawaguchi Stn to AizuWakamatsu Stn (JR Tadami Line for Wakamatsu)
AIZU-KAWAKAMATSU: Stay for 39 minutes
15:06 – 16:20 AizuWakamatsu Stn to Koriyama(Fukushima) Stn (JR Ban-etsu-West Line for Koriyama)
16:30 – 17:42 Koriyama(Fukushima) Station to Euno Station (Shinkansen Yamabiko 146)
18:00 – 18:06 Ueno Station to Minami-Senju Stn (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line for Kita-Koshigaya)
18:11 – 18:13 Minami-Senju Stn to Asakusa (Tsukuba) Stn (Tsukuba Express Local for Akihabara)
We arrived at Urasa Station by Shinkansen on time at 7:35am and was supposed to take a 7:46am local train to Koide Station but was surprised to find out that the 7:46am train will not be arriving due to some technical problems. The next train schedule will only leave Urasa Station at 8:35am and we will only arrived Koide Station by 8:43am, by that time the 7:58am train to Tadami Station has left and the next schedule will only Koide Station at 1:11pm. This means that we have to abandon our plan of going to Tadami and I have to think of a new itinerary for the day.
We chose the Tadami itinerary to experience winter/snow Japan so upon learning that we have to cancel this itinerary, I immediately research other places “nearby” where we can experience snow. And so I have found Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park in Nagano. I hurriedly prepared a new itinerary as follows;
08:35- 08:43 Urasa Station to Koide Station (JR Joetsu Line for NAGAOKA)
09:46 – 10:21 Koide Station to Nagaoka Station (JR Joetsu Line for NAGAOKA)
10:38 – 11:29 Nagaoka Station to Takasaki Station (Shinkansen Toki 318)
11:43 – 12:30 Takasaki Station to Nagano Station (Shinkansen Hakutaka 559)
The view outside from Urasa Station
Since we have lots of time to spare waiting for the next train, we decided to come out of the station and check around.
Of course, another group photo opportunity 😉
We went back inside Urasa Station to board the next train to Koide Station.
A very nice view on our way to Koide Station.
Another white view en route to Koide Station, it suddenly feels like Christmas for some reason, hehe.
Arrived at Koide Station, so happy just seeing this view.
We have more than an hour waiting time in Koide Station so we kill our time fooling around, this video was so “America’s funniest Video” moment ;-p
Our awesome train ride from Koide Station to Nagaoka Station
We bought our own bento meals at a convinienet store earlier in Ueno Station, I started munching mine while riding the Shinkansen to Nagano, perfect with the view from my window.
We arrived at Nagano Station and change to Nagaden Express Train
We bought a 1-day Snow Monkey Pass for 2,900 Yen in Nagano Station. The pass covers the two-way train ride from Nagano Station to Yudanaka Station (the 1-way train ride costs 1,260 Yen), the two-way bus ride from Yudanaka Station to Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop (310 Yen for one way) and Snow Monkey Park admission (500 Yen).
We were lucky to get a front seat view of this 44 minute ride Yudanaka Station
Our train arriving at Yudanaka Station pass noon time.
We waited for the local bus outside Yudanaka Station, there seems less tourist than we expected.
The bus ride from Yudanaka Station to Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop is only a little over 10 miniutes.
We started walking to the hiking trail.
They say that the walk up to Snow Monkey Park is only 25 minutes.
We happily started the “hiking” to the park
The trail is very slippery so its better to wear a sturdy footwear just to be safe.
There are parts of the trail with a very steep portion and one wrong move and you will find yourself rolling down the mountain.
The easiest portion of the trail.
The famous Korakukan Ryokan as you approach the valley
A few monkeys starts to appear just before you to take the hike to the valley.
The view of Korakukan Ryokan mid way up the valley
Jigokudani, in which the park is located, means “hell valley” and is a common name for Japanese valleys with volcanic activity. Although its landscape is not as dramatic as some of Japan’s other jigokudani valleys, Yamanouchi’s Jigokudani does produce a few steaming hot springs.
And there they are!
The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys.
The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions.
The park has one man-made pool around which the monkeys gather, located a few minutes’ walk from the park entrance.
The Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring.
The park warden encourages the monkeys to gather together by throwing food on the ground.
Accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests.
The park gives the visitors the freedom to roam around but are discouraged to interact very closely with the monkeys, like feeding the monkey is strictly prohibited.
After a few more shots, we decided to head back down to the bus stop to go back to Nagano Station.
A farewell shot from our hairy friend.
One of the door of a local house down the valley with cute decorations. Kawaii ne!
There is a very limited bus schedule that leaves Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop back to Yudanaka Station so we walk further down towards the national road where the Snow Monkey Bus Stop is located.
The view from the Snow Monkey bus stop. From here we took a 41 minute bus ride all the way straight to Nagano Station, still free using your 1-day Snow Monkey Pass
Tired but happy, riding the shinkansen back to Tokyo
Back in Tokyo, though we have to make a last minute itinerary adjustment, every one was satisfied and happy and we ended Day 3 with a nice cold beer at the bar in the hostel.
Travel Tips: Transportation (Shinkansen and local JR trains) from Tokyo until Nagano were all covered by JR-Pass. Transportation from Nagano to Snow Monkey Park (local trains and bus) are all covered by Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass including the entrance fee in the park.