Local Train Station: Shin-Shimashima From Tokyo: From Tokyo Station, take the Joetsu shinkansen line to Nagano. At Nagano. change to the Nagano Dentetsu line and go to Yudanaka (express trains run almost every hour). Make sure the train goes all the way to Yudanaka station as some trains only go as far as Nakano. From the Yudanaka station, take a public bus toward Kanbayashi onsen and get off in the last stop. You'll need to then walk about 30 minutes to the ryokan.
Travel Time: 3H Travel Time: Tokyo Station to Nagano, 1 hour and 30 minutes. Nagano to Yudanaka, 1 hour by local train, 40 minutes by express train). Bus to Kanbayashi onsen stop, 15 minutes, followed by a 30 minute walk to the ryokan. Total travel time: 3 hours
Price: Rates starts at Y9,900, including breakfast and dinner. Days Closed: None Day Visit Option: Y400 (11:00am - 3:00pm) Credit Cards: Yes
Onsen Specifics: Two outdoor baths, one mixed bath and one women-only bath. Two inside baths, one for men and one for women. Water Good For: Rheumatism, neuralgia
The single most unique quality about this onsen is that you are joined in the hot springs with the area's wild monkeys. (No, we're not kidding.) This ryokan started at 1864 and underwent a remodel and upgrade in 1985. There are only 12 rooms in the ryokan, so the atmosphere at Kouraku-kan is intimate and cozy. The baths are located next to a river, which only add to the feeling of nature and beauty of the place.
What is most unusual about this royokan is the high number of monkeys which visit and bath in the water along side you. Because the outdoor onsens are right next to the river and surrounded in the nature, there is no line for human or monkey. Don't worry, the monkeys here are very polite and know the etiquette.
Although it's fairly difficult to get to the ryokan, you can be guaranteed a quiet and relaxing experience at this unique location.
The opinions off the web are mixed, but when it comes to the monkeys, it seems the experience is unique.
"Yes, I took a bath with several monkeys! At first, two small monkeys came, and then several more joined him. So I was taking a bath with seven monkeys! You have to go to the hot springs early morning to take a bath with monkeys. I went at 6:30 a.m. The monkeys started to show up around 7:30. One of prettiest monkey sit right next me and we had a great time together. But, the ryokan itself sucks! The food was bad and so was the service."
"We went on a week day. There were just a few people but many monkeys. The food was great, bath was excellent and environment was fantastic. This is my favorite onsen."
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