Jigokudani Monkey Park is known to be the only place in the world where monkeys take a bath in onsen. This park allows people to closely observe Japanese snow monkey’s in their natural habitat without intimidating them or getting hurt by them all year around.
Located in the deep mountains of Nagano, this park is breathtakingly beautiful. Although the winter in this valley is very severe with snow over 3 feet deep and almost no sunlight, the harshness of nature led to a phenomenon that attracts many tourists today.
Bathing wasn’t always a part of the monkey’s life. It is said that a curious baby monkey one day decided to jump in to onsen at a nearby onsen ryokan and his friends followed. Eventually it wasn’t just his friends, but other baby monkeys and their mothers. Now it is a tradition among the monkeys here and now they love it with all their heart.
This park was made by a man who believed in the co-existence of men and monkeys. In post-war Japan, monkeys were merely seen as trouble makers who ate human food, but a man named Sougo successfully guided monkeys further up in the mountains where they could have a place of their own. Since then, this place has been a place of refugee to many monkeys.
Winter isn’t just the only season beautiful in Jigokudani Mokey Park. This nature-abundant place is pretty all-year around. Since this park isn’t a zoo, the monkeys are free to go wherever they want. It’s not guaranteed that you always find them at the onsen or even at the park. Even so, the gorgeous scenery of the park is worth visiting.
Even though you don’t get to see them bathing, this is the only place you can see them up close like this. In order to keep the needed space between the humans and the monkeys, there are some rules to abide. You are not allowed to feed them or approach them. However, because of these rules you are able to watch these monkeys relax and have a great time in their life.
For anyone who would like to follow every minute of these adorable monkeys, there is a camera installed by the onsen which takes pictures every minute.
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Jigokudani Moneky Park
Address: 6845 Hirao, Yamanouchi-cho, Takai-gun, Nagano prefecture
Access From Tokyo: Hokuriku-shinkansen(via Nagano) to Nagano station, Nagano station to Shiga-kogen iki express bus to Snow monkey park bus stop. 35 minute walk to Jigokudani Monkey park from Snow monkey bus stop.
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM (April – October)
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (November-March)
500 yen (Adult)
250 yen (Child)
Website: Jigokudani Moneky Park