Snow Monkey Park is located in Nagano Prefecture’s Yamanouchi area, nestled in the scenic Jigokudani valley. Here, you can witness Japanese Macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, engaging in their unique activity of bathing in natural hot springs. It offers an unparalleled wildlife experience with a hands-off policy – no touching or feeding is allowed.
The park’s main attraction is a man-made pool near the entrance, where monkeys gather for a communal dip. Stroll along the path to encounter these social creatures in their natural habitat, living in large groups. Open year-round, the park transforms into a winter wonderland from December to March, making it ideal for capturing the monkeys’ bathing moments, especially in January and February.
Within this natural marvel lies the 300-year-old Jigokudani Hot Springs Korakukan, a traditional Japanese inn designated as an important cultural property. With ten uniquely designed guest rooms offering mountain views, it provides a tranquil retreat. Enjoy a hot spring bath fed by the same source as the park and savor local cuisine at the inn’s restaurant.
Getting there is easy – take an express bus from Nagano Station or a limited express train to Yudanaka Station, followed by a local bus, with the journey taking around 50 minutes. Snow Monkey Park is in the charming hot spring village of Kanbayashi Onsen, part of the broader Yamanouchi region. Whether you’re drawn to the monkeys’ antics or the winter scenery, January and February are prime months for an unforgettable visit. If you can’t be there in person, catch the monkeys’ antics through the live camera by the pool, accessible online.
Snow Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen) (地獄谷野猿公苑)
The Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park in Japan provides a unique opportunity to observe Japanese macaques in their natural habitat. Unlike many wildlife parks, these primates are not confined, allowing visitors to closely interact with them. Despite being wild, the macaques exhibit a friendly demeanor. It’s important to dispel misconceptions, such as their furry coat excluding faces, posteriors, palms, and soles. The park highlights the complex social structure of these macaques, with females staying in troops and giving birth once every two years. The visit offers an unforgettable experience, fostering admiration for these fascinating animals.
Jigokudani Onsen Korakukan (地獄谷温泉後楽館)
Jigokudai Onsen Korakukan offers an exclusive and secluded stay, providing guests with access to a unique hot spring where they can admire playful animals from a safe distance. Nestled in the mountains and over 150 years old, it is the closest accommodation to the Snow Monkey Park. Guests can enjoy the baths throughout the day, sharing the outdoor hot spring with monkeys during winter. The inn, predating the Jigokudani Monkey Park, holds historical significance as the world’s first hot spring where monkeys bathed, with a tradition dating back to 1961.