Once Upon a Time in the Winter, we took a train ride to Nagano to see the Snow Monkeys. Having grown up in a tropical country and now living in Australia, I haven't encountered a lot of snow in my life, and while I have seen it before, this was probably the first time when it was full on thick and flurry. Thankfully I had my trusty gum boots - I also bought spikes when we got there - and enough layers (Thanks Heatech) to get me through it.
The walk up the mountain took about thirty minutes and at times could be quite slippery. The vistas were striking and despite the cold, the views had my imagination working as to what kind of fairy tales happened in these woods.
At the end of the walk you will find the famous hot springs, where the Snow Monkeys like to spend their time warming up. Again, they are super chill and don't care about you, but you will find each spring surrounded by paparazzi in the form of tourists trying to take perfect monkey photos. Despite all of that, I found the experience very peaceful. The surroundings were stark but beautiful and somehow the monkeys' calmness and ability to ignore the outside world made it a zen experience.
We booked a tour through Viator, and after this went to a temple and had some sake tasting. Would recommend doing this with a tour as the mountain with the monkeys is not close to the centre of town and possibly not as accessible without a tour vehicle.