Yes, you read the title correctly, and I’m going to elaborate on it in this post. There’s nowhere else in the world you’ll find snow monkeys bathing in natural hot springs in the middle of the mountains other than Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park in Nagano, Japan. Despite the remote location, tens of thousands of tourists from around the world visit each year to see these red-faced wild monkeys bathe in hot springs to keep warm on cold winter days. If you are looking for a gorgeous hiking, then you could trek through the woods of Nagano, Japan to see these wild snow monkeys bathing in warm water from hot springs, bursting from earth’s surface.
A Little About Snow Monkeys at the Jigokudani Monkey Park
Though these Japanese macaques inhabit everywhere in Japan, it’s difficult to find monkeys in mountains because of steep cliffs and deep forests. These red-faced monkeys, however, are considered unusual for their love of hot water.
Jigokudani Yaen-Koen was established in 1964 and since then it has been a popular place worldwide for watching wild Japanese macaques bathing in natural hot springs.
The employees of the park feed monkeys so that the monkeys come to the park when they cannot find better food in the mountains. This gives tourists or visitors an opportunity to see the monkeys at the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen or Snow Monkey Park.
What to Experience in Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park?
The only place in the world where wild snow monkeys bathe in natural hot springs is Jigokudani Yaen-Koen, located in the Valley of Yokoyu River, 850 m above sea level. People named the area ‘Jigokudani’ which is a Japanese word for ‘Hell’s Valley’ in English because of the very stiff cliffs of the valley, and the hot water coming off the springs, bursting from the earth’s surface along the cliffs.
It’s an area known for its heavy snowfall in winter and its abundance of natural hot spring water. Snow covers the area for almost one-third of the year with temperatures averaging minus 10 degree Celsius during winter months.
Despite this harsh environment, this place is paradise for wild Japanese snow monkeys. About 200 wild Japanese macaques live in this park.
Jigokudani Yaen-Koen was established in 1964 and since then it has been a popular place worldwide for watching wild Japanese macaques bathing in natural hot springs. The place became famous all over the world when a Japanese macaque appeared on the front cover of America’s world famous Life magazine in 1970.
Hiking to the Monkey Park in Nagano, Japan
If you want to see the only wild monkeys in the world that bathe in hot springs in Nagano, Japan, you can take a day trip to the Jigokudani Monkey Park from Tokyo, if your base is Japan’s capital.
You can take train to Nagano Station from Tokyo Station and from Nagano Station, you can take a bus to Kanbayashi Onsen. The ride takes approximately 40-50 minutes. From the Kanbayashi Onsen busstop, it is about 30 minutes walk to the Monkey Park. You can eat at a cafe just outside the park.
I would recommend that you bring good hiking shoes or boots as the trekking route is pretty icy, snowy and slippery. The relatively short hike, however, into the park is amazing as you will trek through the snowy mountains and woods with trees drapped in snow.
So the hike truly offers unique and amazing entertainment. You will love watching them bathe in the hot springs, play and clean each other. The typical features of these monkeys are their red faces, short tails and small ears. They spend most of their time on cold winter days hanging out in the warm water.
Highlights – What To Do and See
– The only place in the world where you’ll see wild Japanese snow monkeys enjoying a hot bath, playing and grooming each other on winter days
– Take an amazing hike into the Monkey Park through woods in the middle of snowy mountains
– Enjoy the beautiful surroundings
Rules and Regulations for Visitors
Visitors should follow the following rules and regulations for their own safety:
- Don’t touch or yell to monkeys
- Don’t show or feed them any food
- Bathing with monkeys are strictly prohibited because of health and hygiene concerns
- Don’t stare at the monkeys’ eyes closely
- Don’t use selfie stick
- No pets are allowed in the park
You can see wild Japanese snow monkeys in a natural environment at the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen or Wild Monkey Park. Here it’s not like a zoo, but it’s a natural habitat many of the macaques call home, spending time bathing in hot springs and grooming. It is one of the world’s best wildlife sights and a must-see.