The world famous Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is home to about 200 wild monkeys who spend their days soaking in the natural hot springs, keeping warm from the harsh winter.
The park was opened in 1964 and is considered to be the only place in the world to see snow monkeys “bathing” in the wild. Normally, monkeys do not enjoy entering water, yet this tribe has learned to employ this technique to survive the long cold winters experienced in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture.
The hike to the hotsprings takes approximately 30 - 40 minutes each way from the tour bus parking. At times the path is icy and slippery so please take due care. The walk itself is an enjoyable part of the tour as you wander through the picturesque cedar-lined forest path with occasional signboards written interesting information about the snow monkeys.
At the Monkey Park, apart from bathing in the onsen, you will be able to see the snow monkeys playing, fighting, eating, and huddling to keep warm. Watch in awe at their adorable expression and movements.
We ask guests to follow three important rules when visiting the Snow Monkey Park. Do not take any food with you, never show the monkeys your food or snacks, they may try to take it off you, and human food will make them very sick. Never stare monkeys in the eye, it makes them think you are starting a fight, and they may attack you. Do not touch the monkeys, they won’t like it. You may take as many photos as you like; however, avoid using flash, and do not use selfie sticks in the park.
The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park offers an unforgettable experience, allowing you to get up close to these adorable creatures and witness the friendly yet wild monkeys in their unique natural habitat.
photos © Toshio Hagiwara