Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Watch monkeys in the wild bathing in a hot spring

The Jigokudani Yaen Koen, also known as the Snow Monkey Park, is a unique attraction located in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture in japan. Since 1964, this park has been home to a troop of Japanese macaque monkeys who have been observed soaking in the hot springs of Jigokudani. Visitors have the opportunity to view these illusive creatures up close and even witness them bathing in the hot springs during the winter months. This article will provide a detailed overview of the Snow Monkey Park, including how to get there, the behavior of the monkeys, and other attractions in the area.

Section 1: The Snow Monkey Park
The Snow Monkey Park is located in a quiet ravine in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture. It is a natural habitat for a population of Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys. The park was established in 1964 to provide a space where these wild monkeys could be observed without fences or cages. The main attraction of the park is the opportunity to see the monkeys bathing in the hot springs, which they do to keep warm during the winter months. This behavior is unique to this troop of monkeys and has become a popular tourist attraction.

Section 2: How to Get There
Getting to the Snow Monkey Park requires some time and planning. However, there are buses that run to Kanbayashi Onsen, which is near the trail leading into the park, from popular destinations around the prefecture. From Nagano, the journey takes about 40 minutes, while from Nozawa Onsen and Shiga Kogen, it takes around 30 minutes. From Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen, it’s only a 10-minute bus ride. Once you reach Kanbayashi Onsen, it’s a 25 to 40-minute walk on a trail through the forest to the Snow Monkey Park. The trail is accessible all year round.

Section 3: Quick Facts about Japanese Macaques
Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, have the northernmost range of the world’s non-human primates. They are known for their adaptability to cold climates and are the only primates other than humans who are known to use hot springs for bathing. The Snow Monkey Park is also referred to as the Jigokudani Monkey Park, or the Jigokudani Yaen Koen.

Section 4: The Behavior of the Monkeys
Observing the behavior of the monkeys is one of the highlights of visiting the Snow Monkey Park. The older monkeys can be seen relaxing in the hot water with zen-like expressions, while the younger monkeys play and interact with each other. The park provides signage along the path through the forest to the baths, which tells visitors about macaque social hierarchy, behavior, and child rearing. It is fascinating to see how these laid back tree swingers live their lives and bathe as they please. They have become accustomed to humans being around and will often ignore them.

Section 5: Park Etiquette
While visiting the Snow Monkey Park, it is important to follow certain etiquette guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of the monkeys. Visitors should not feed, touch, or threaten the monkeys. Staring or looking into their eyes can be seen as a sign of aggression. It is also advised not to get too close to the monkeys and under no circumstances should anyone join them in the hot springs. Respecting the monkeys and their natural habitat is crucial for their conservation.

Section 6: Other Attractions in the Area
After spending time at the Snow Monkey Park, visitors can explore other attractions in the nearby areas. Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen are both popular hot spring villages where visitors can relax and soak in the traditional Japanese onsen. These villages offer a monkey-free onsen experience and provide a glimpse into the local culture. For those interested in winter sports, Shiga Kogen and Nozawa Onsen are both a half-hour bus ride away and offer excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities.

The Snow Monkey Park in Jigokudani, Nagano Prefecture, is a must-visit attraction for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. The opportunity to observe the Japanese macaque monkeys bathing in the hot springs is a truly unique experience. The park provides a natural and unobtrusive environment for the monkeys, allowing visitors to witness their behavior up close. By following the park etiquette and respecting the monkeys’ natural habitat, visitors can contribute to their conservation. Additionally, the surrounding areas offer other attractions such as hot spring villages and winter sports opportunities, making it a perfect destination for a memorable and diverse vacation.

Address And Maps Location:

6845 Hirao, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken

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