Hotel Housei in Yudanaka

Relax at this delightful onsen hotel near the monkeys

By Peter Sidell    - 2 min read

One time when a friend decided to visit Japan, I took her to see the snow monkeys in Jigokudani, in the countryside of Nagano prefecture. The main base for seeing them is the nearby town of Yudanaka, which has a fair few places to stay; the one I chose for us was Hotel Housei (ホテル豊生), a traditional onsen hotel close to the station.

Everything about the hotel is relaxing. Throughout, the decor is charming and understated, with lots of wood and soft earthtones, very easy on the eye. My room was a good size for a solo traveler, and in similarly traditional style: tatami mats warm and gentle underfoot, screen doors prettily decorated with painted flowers, a traditional low lacquered table.

Another angle in my room
Another angle in my room

As well as the monkeys, the main draw of the hotel is the onsen baths. Each day of our stay we'd put on the elegant yukata robes and make our way to the large public bathrooms, there to steam in the sauna, and soak in the indoor and outdoor baths. It felt like the quintessential Japanese experience to be in an outdoor bath, immersed in the hot water as the snow gently fell around me.

There's a well-stocked gift shop and a spacious lounge in the lobby, looking out onto a rock garden. In the evening we found the lounge had been screened off and transformed into a karaoke room for a large group of guests; the presence of a bar suggests that this is a permanent arrangement. Naturally we joined in, and allowed ourselves to be prevailed upon to treat the guests to our unique rendition of The Beatles' "Yesterday".

Lobby lounge by day, karaoke lounge by night
Lobby lounge by day, karaoke lounge by night

Despite limited English, the staff were wonderful, so friendly and helpful. We were able to arrange a shuttle bus to the snow monkey park at a time of our choosing, and a pickup to come back, and they even stopped off for my friend to go to a grocery store.

Getting there

It's just a few minutes' walk from Yudanaka station, the terminal of the Nagano Dentetsu (Nagaden) train line, down the hill and across the river.

Despite the comfort and facilities, it's really very affordable. Prices will vary with the season and the size of your group, but you can expect to pay roughly JPY5000 per person per night, or more if you choose a room with a private bath and/or include any meals.

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Peter Sidell

Peter Sidell @peter.sidell

I came to Japan from Manchester, England in 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I'm not working, I write satire and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check YouTube for a taste.

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 6 days ago
I've only ever stayed at campground bungalows in Nagano and done day onsens. This looks like a restful spot. And so close to the station which is great for non-driving visitors.
Sherilyn Siy a week ago
On my children's bucket list!
Kim a week ago
I've only visited this area for a day trip - I'd definitely like to stay longer in the future and this looks like a good spot to stay!
Elena Lisina a week ago
I stayed in the same ryokan on my trip to Yudanaka Onsen! It was good, plus free shuttle bus to the Jigokudani Yaen Koen which I enjoyed a lot.