Is Jigokudani the Greatest Place to See Snow Monkeys in Japan?


I don’t point out this usually, however an image of a Japanese snow monkey is a part of what impressed me to make my first journey to Japan greater than a decade in the past. Nicely, that and the one that took it.

The dangerous information? It ended up taking me greater than two years after seeing that picture to set foot on Japanese soil for the primary time. The more serious information? Although my crush was an incredible photographer, he turned out to be a reasonably terrible human being.

However I digress. I’ve now seen Japan’s red-faced macaques (and photographed them—higher than whats-his-name did, I’d add) a number of occasions. So I’m well-equipped to inform you the place to see snow monkeys in Japan, and to tell you concerning the how and when of your journey as effectively.

Why Folks Love Japanese Snow Monkeys

I assume that in case you’re looking out the web for the way to see snow monkeys in Japan, you already just like the creatures. Formally a kind of red-faced macaques, Japan’s snow monkeys have change into one of many nation’s most iconic animals. I feel this occurred across the time I noticed the picture I discussed within the introduction. (Which, trying again on it, he-who-shall-not-be-named may need merely harvested from a viral web publish.)

Visiting the snow monkeys (assuming you do it through the “season”—extra on that in a second) additionally lets you partake is a deliciously wintry expertise. That is enticing as a result of until you’re a skier, it may be troublesome to entry winter in Japan in a method that really…effectively, appears like winter. The truth that it’s fairly straightforward to entry most of Japan’s snow monkeys simply makes this much more enticing to vacationers.


The Greatest Locations to See Snow Monkeys in Japan

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Nagano

In the event you’re looking for snow monkeys close to Tokyo, Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano prefecture is the best choice. And, I’ll be frank, it’s the one place to see the enduring picture of the monkeys: Specifically, red-face macaques bathing in onsen within the Japanese Alps. Not one of the different choices on this checklist let you get these kinds of images!

Hakodate Tropical Botanical Backyard, Hokkaido

One different to Jigokudani Monkey Park if seeing monkeys in onsen is vital (however you don’t must be within the mountains) is Hakodate Tropical Botanical Backyard in Hakodate, the southernmost metropolis of Hokkaido island. Notice that these “scorching tubbing monkeys” (because the vacationer affiliation in Yunokawa Onsen calls them) are solely current for a short while through the winter.

Iwatayama Monkey Park, Kyoto

The dangerous information? The monkeys on Iwatayama mountain in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district don’t bathe in onsen. The excellent news? They’re the identical species of monkeys you discover additional afield, besides they’re handy to prime Kyoto sightseeing points of interest, particularly the Sagano Bamboo Grove. It additionally virtually by no means snows right here, nevertheless, so it is a fairly massive compromise. 

Minoh Park, Osaka

Osaka’s Minoh Park isn’t well-known as a vacation spot for seeing snow monkeys in Japan. Really, it isn’t well-known in any respect, besides maybe for being the place the place the now-viral tempura-fried maple leaves originated. As is the case for a lot of the different locations on this checklist, there are not any onsen right here and minimal snow, however you’ll be able to nonetheless see monkeys right here in case you occur to be within the space anyway.

Osarunoyama Monkey Park, Tochigi

Positioned in Tochigi prefecture not removed from the historic middle of Nikko, Osarunoyama actually means “Monkey Mountain.” Because of this, it shouldn’t come as a shock that it is a prime vacation spot for seeing monkeys. The excellent news is that within the wintertime, you’re virtually assured to see snow right here. The dangerous information? There are not any scorching springs.


Methods to Get to Jigokudani Monkey Park

On condition that most individuals looking for snow monkeys will go to Jigokudani, I’m going to commit most of my power on this article to explaning the way to get there. (Need to see snow monkeys elsewhere in Japan? To not fear! You possibly can at all times rent me to plan your journey—I embrace detailed, customized navigation directions, to not point out an entire lot of different priceless particulars!)

At any fee, the simplest technique to attain Jigokudani Monkey Park is to first get to Nagano Station. That is straight related to Tokyo and Kanazawa through the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and to Matsumoto and Nagoya through the JR Chuo Line. When you’re right here, the Nagaden Bus can take you on to the Snow Monkey Park entrance in about an hour (although the bus comes a lot much less ceaselessly outdoors of the winter season, do be suggested.


Different FAQ About Seeing Snow Monkeys in Japan

When ought to I go to Jigokudani Monkey Park?

The very best time to see snow monkeys in Japan is when there’s snow on the bottom. Whereas snow can fall within the mountains of Nagano prefecture as early as November or as late as April, the optimum time to go to for a superbly snowy scene is in January or February, when there might be each falling snow and a deep layer on the bottom already.

Are you able to bathe in Jigokudani Monkey Park?

You completely can not bathe with the snow monkey of Jigokudani! That is at the beginning as a result of the water is just too scorching—it’s over 50ºC or 122ºF, which is way hotter than human onsen. Secondly, the monkeys defecate and urinate within the water, so it merely wouldn’t be sanitary to wash in it.

Are you able to see the snow monkeys on a day journey from Tokyo?

It’s straightforward to see the snow monkeys on a day journey from Tokyo. First, trip any Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno Stations to Nagano Station. Then examine the Nagaden Bus timetable, and trip the Nagaden Bus to the Snow Monkey Park entrance. Do make certain to confirm the final bus time again earlier than you begin your hike, which takes round 45 minutes every method.


The Backside Line

After studying this publish, it is best to have a transparent concept not solely about the place to see snow monkeys in Japan, however the way to get there, when to journey and possibly even some concepts about different locations to go to in Japan. For many vacationers, a visit to Jigokudani Monkey Park (whether or not as a day journey from Nagano or Tokyo, or an in a single day keep at a close-by ryokan) ought to do the trick. In the event you’re extra adventurous, you may go additional afield to Nikko or Hakodate; in case you’ve bought much less time, you would merely go to Kyoto’s monkey park, which options the identical monkeys, however (often) no snow. Need customized assist placing your journey collectively? Contemplate hiring me to plan it!



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