Snow Monkeys In Nagano, Japan

The Spa Loving Snow Monkeys In Nagano, Japan

Snow Monkeys In Nagano– Located near the bottom of the Joshinestu Kogen park , the Snow Monkey Park is home to at least one of the foremost amazing animal adventures in the world. it’s always been one of my ultimate bucket list journeys witnessing the monkeys up close, and when organized correctly it’ll be something you’ll always remember.
Established in 1964, the park was created as a conservation area where the Japanese Macaques monkeys would have a secure refuge within their natural habitat. Their forest home was once threatened by loggers building ski resorts, and they began to migrate towards Jigokudani and towards local farmland where they became legally hunted to guard their crops.

Through watching humans soaking within the local hot springs, the monkeys soon began to copy their behaviour and have become the sole monkeys within the world known to enjoy bathing in onsens. A local man by the name of Sogo Hara led the movement to make the monkey park where they might be safe, and baths were created only for the monkeys, using the local hot spring source.

Fencing was a choice to keep the monkeys far away from the neighbouring villages but was rejected to not limit their freedom. So, the daily practice of feeding the monkeys raw barley and soybeans began to stay them within the park instead of heading into the villages where they were considered to be pests.

A recent report was released by Kyoto University in Japan to scientifically validate the advantages of the monkeys’ behaviour. Researchers considered that the monkeys maintain their normal body heat due to having thicker and longer fur during winter and are the sole group of monkeys known to require hot spring baths. First observed in 1963 when a young female was seen in an outside thermal spring belonging to a close-by hotel, other monkeys soon copied her and eventually one in every three females bathed regularly in winter.

Female snow monkeys use the recent spring more often in winter than in spring which reduced stress hormone levels in those females. Trading social status with the advantages of a hot spring has proven advantageous for conserving energy by reducing the loss of body heat and lowering stress levels.

Snow Monkeys In Nagano, Japan
Snow Monkeys In Nagano

Located within the Valley of Yokoyu River, the park got its name due to the steep cliffs of the valley and flowing hot water from the river. With its towering cliffs, lush jungles, steam and boiling water coming from the frozen ground, locals called this place Hell Valley.

The snow monkeys like to soak themselves within the cold and heavy snow of winter, therefore the best time to go to is within the winter when there’s snow on the bottom . you’re not always bound to see the monkeys so attempt to visit during the peak winter season. there’s even a webcam where you’ll see how many monkeys are currently occupying the recent springs.

Snow Monkeys In Nagano, Japan
Snow Monkeys In Nagano, Japan

Get there early before it opens at 9 am, you’ll have an honest quarter-hour alone with the monkeys before the crowds arrive. By noon it becomes a veritable zoo. Monkeys also want to go away from the world and climb back to the mountain in the afternoon and are often forced by food to stay them for the tourists’ pleasure, not the most ethical due to experiencing wildlife.

The best option is to remain the primary night during a Ryokan. My advice is to remain at Kanbayashi Hotel Senjukaku, a favourite of the Imperial family and a top tier ryokan with hot springs, great kaiseki-style food, an inside pool, and more.


  • Arigato gozaimasu! Thank you! Probably I can use this when I will travel to this land of rising sun, Japan. I really love to visit their heritage places and also like to meet with Mr. Snow Monkey ?. Beautiful article. Arigato gozaimasu for sharing.

  • I actually lived in Nagano for a few years (now I live in Nagoya) and never saw the snow monkeys. It seems cool to see them, but Japanese monkeys are super dangerous. I knew a Japanese who has scars from when monkeys bit her.

  • I loved reading more about these amazing snow monkeys. I watch A LOT of BBC nature shows, and these beautiful monkeys have always intrigued me. Great article!

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