For those who might be interested in going to Nagano to visit the famous Snow Monkeys, I wanted to share my experience with you at Shimaya Ryokan. My full review can be found on Trip Advisor. My significant other and I really enjoyed our stay here and would highly recommend them.
Of all of the Ryokan's in Yudanaka, I picked this one because of the high ratings on Trip Advisor.
After meeting the owners (Mr. and & Mrs. Yumoto), it is very clear why they are consistently one of the top Ryokans in the area year after year.
First of all, the price you pay is super fair. You get more than what you are paying for really! It includes transportation to and from the train station (though you have to call Mr. Yumoto). He will even take you straight to the entrance of the Monkey Park for free. He also took us to an outdoor onsen with scenic view "Tomi-no-yu" (see pictures below ; admission is separate and you settle it along with your bill at checkout). On the way to the private outdoor onsen, he took us to his friend's apple Orchard too.
Though it was really a shame that it was raining very hard prior and so we couldn't see too much at the private outdoor onsen-- separate from his Ryokan. But it would have been incredible experience at sunset with good weather.
Kaiseki Dinners at Shimaya.
Prior to arriving, I e-mailed Mr. Yumoto to inquire about the breakfast and dinner and he responded really fast. Unlike most Ryokans, where Kaiseki dinners or breakfasts are included, food here is an add-on. However, it is very reasonable for what you get. Breakfast was between 800-1300 yen while dinners are 2500-4500 yen per person.
There's 9 public onsens in the next nearby town (Shibu Onsen) which you can use for a small fee if you want to spend the day relaxing, but since it was storming, we didn't get a chance to go.
The on-premise (indoors) onsen in Shimaya is wonderful and spacious. There's a separate gender one (though we did not use it), and one where you can reserved for private use for 1 hour. Free wifi is fast too, just ask Mr. Yumoto for the password.
They have an entire area dedicated to gifts they've received from their guests from all over the world. It really feels like you are staying with your extended family when you visit Shimaya Ryokan.