Today is a self-guided day.
This morning, visit the Jigokudani Park, home to the famous Snow Monkeys. Jigokudani literally means “hell’s valley” due to the steam and boiling water that bubble out of small crevices in the frozen ground. It is in these hot spring baths where the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak. Going to the park from the nearest bus stops and parking lot can only be done on foot, which requires around half an hour of trekking. Comfortable footwear is strongly recommended (and warm clothes especially during the colder months).
The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, they can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests. Although the monkeys live in the area all year round, they are particularly numerous during the colder months (December – April) while less likely to be spotted in Autumn.
In the afternoon, it’s recommended to visit the nearby charming town of Obuse, a small town that features a number of traditional houses and stores. Over 100 houses in the town participate in an ‘Open Garden’ event. If this sign sits in front of a house, it means guests can freely enter the property and enjoy the gardens. A great way to get some insight into Japanese houses.
Obuse is also the home of Hokusai, the famous ukiyo-e (woodblock) painter during the Edo period, and Masuichi-Ichimura, the local sake brewery that produces high quality sake from locally produced rice.
Note: Transportation to/from Jigokudani can only be arranged on the spot (at own expense)
Another amazing dinner will be served at the ryokan.
Overnight in Shibu Onsen