Jigokundani Monkey Park is one of the most visited parks during winter in Japan due to the wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. Just like human beings, these Japanese Macaques also known as Snow Monkeys offer a unique experience to the viewers. The park is located in the forest of Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi near the onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka.
1. The Natural Hot Spring
The park has one natural hot spring that is just a few minutes from the park entry point. You will definitely encounter monkeys along the path to the pool. It is very entertaining to watch them interact in large groups. The monkeys move freely in the rocky area and have no problem coming right up to your foot which is quiet alarming so don’t touch, poke or feed the monkeys.
2. The Information Center
There is a small information center mostly in Japanese. However, there is detailed information about the hierarchy of the alpha male in English. The information indicates that there is one male boss at a time. During feeding time, the male boss is feed first then his family and finally the rest of the monkeys. Pictures showing the past and present alpha male with the duration of their leadership noted below are seen inside the souvenir shop.
3. The Monkeys are Photogenic
Although the park is normally open throughout the year, these bathing monkeys are photogenic when there is snow. The region is covered in snow from December to March but the best time is January and February when the monkeys are mostly in the pool. The park wardens sometimes have to encourage the monkeys to enter the bath by throwing food into the pool especially during warm season.
4. Also Known as Hell Valley
It is also known that Jigokudani translates to “hell valley” due to the steam and bubbles produced by the boiling water due to volcanic activity in Japanese valleys. One might think there is a heating system installed under water. This valley guarantees the monkeys an endless supply of warm water. There are also other steaming hot springs in Jigokudani like ryokan that visitors pass on their way to the monkey park.
5. There is a Video Camera
The park has a camera installed by the side of the onsen. The camera live streams everything the monkeys do on the official website. This promotes the park by creating a desire to visit the park physically. The camera prevents anyone from jumping into the pool with the monkeys-this ensures security.
- Name: Jigokudani Monkey Park
- Address: 6845 Oaza Heion, Shimotakai-gun, Yamanouchi-machi 381-0401, Nagano Prefecture
- Price: 10,215 JPY
- Phone: +81 269-33-4379
- Opening hour: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Mon-Sun
- Website: http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/
You may not get the opportunity to see such wonderful creatures so close anywhere in the world so, the Jigokudani Park is highly recommended.
Have a good trip and travel!