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Onsens & Snow Monkeys
Best time to go: January to March, November to December
2 Nights | from £840pp
Book this holiday and earn approximately1 5 9 6
Holiday type: Tailor-made
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- Explore the alpine town of Yudanaka, located in the northern Japanese Alps
- Witness Japanese Macaques enjoying their natural habitat as they bathe in hot springs and roll up snowballs for fun
- Soak up one of Japan's best loved traditions and sample the mineral rich waters of Shibu Onsen, a tonic for both body and mind
- Taste sweet local chestnuts in Obuse, the former hometown of artist, painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai
Day 1 Tokyo/Shibu Onsen
From Tokyo station you will travel by the super speedy Shinkansen bullet train to Nagano, a gateway to the Japanese Alps and best known for hosting the winter Olympics in 1996. Be sure to grab a window seat as your journey takes you through scenic rural landscapes adorned by a blanket a glistening white snow. Spend the next two nights at Kokuya Hotel, a traditional Japanese-style hotel (ryokan) with a 400-year history (the present owner is the 16th generation to run the place!). The ryokan has six different, 100% natural hot springs, which are rich in health-giving minerals that benefit your muscles, joints, and skin.
Located on the Shibu Onsen 'spa street, which has nine public onsen that you can try, you will also see local people strolling down the street in yukata (light robes) as they head for a soak in one of these hot spring baths.Your dinner tonight will be a kaiseki, or Japanese traditional meal, comprised of nine or more dishes. The meal is made up of seasonal dishes using only the freshest of local Nagano ingredients.
Kokuya Hotel | Meals: Dinner
Day 2 Shibu Onsen
From Yudanaka station, take the bus to Kanbayashi Onsen from where you can walk to Jigokudani Yaen Koen to see the snow monkeys. Jigokudani literally means 'hell's valley' due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, and it is in the baths of this boiling water that the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak in. The monkeys first started using the natural spa more than 100 years ago in 1884; watch as they form friendships among the group, grooming one another and bathing sleepily in the hot waters.
You could probably while away days on end monkey-watching, but we recommend spending your afternoon exploring the nearby town of Obuse, a charming old-style town with traditional houses, Hokusai museum and Masuichi sake brewery. Since the Edo Period, Obuse has been known as the 'town of chestnuts'; don't leave without tasting the home-grown delicacies, either from Kurian Fumido sweet shop or one of the town spicy chestnut curries.
Kokuya Hotel | Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 Shibu Onsen/Tokyo
Return to Tokyo on board the Shinkansen or if you wish, extend your visit to the quaint alpine towns, ski slopes and onsens for a few more days.
At A&K all of our journeys are individually tailored to suit your needs and timescale. As a guide, this 3 day suggested holiday will cost from £840 per person, based on two sharing.
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Meet the Orient & Indian Subcontinent Team
Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Smith, Lynne and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget.
Best time to be there
Spring (late March to April) for cherry blossom, early summer (May to early June) for warm sunshine, autumn (October to November) for sunny weather and spectacular colours.
Osaka/ Tokyo Narita and Haneda (Japan Airlines, British Airways)
12 hours 30 minutes from London
GMT +9 hours
Not required for UK passport holders
No vaccinations required