The wonderful Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani - Japan's “Hell Valley”

Native to Japan, the wonderful Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) are classed as a terrestrial Old World Monkey species and the world’s northernmost living primate.

Almost certainly the best location to get up close and personal to these wildlife stars is in the Jigokudani region of Japan, otherwise know as “Hell Valley”. And the best place in this region is Jigokudani-Yaen-Koen or Wild Snow Monkey Park, which was established in 1964.

Typical of all primates, the Japanese Macaque is highly intelligent and adaptable. During the last century these macaques, affectionately known the world over as “Snow Monkeys”, discovered that immersing themselves in the naturally occuring hot thermal springs (known locally as onsen) of Jigokudani, was not only an enjoyable and sociable experience, it was essential for combating and surviving the harshest of environments.

Visiting the hot springs is now a daily ritual for the 160+ strong monkey troop.

The park is located in Yudanaka-Shibu Onsen in Yamanouchi Town in the Nagano prefecture. It is approximately. 2.5km from Shibu Onsen, 7km from Yudanaka and 33km from the city of Nagano. 


The park is open all year round . . .

April to October 08:30am – 17:00pm

November to March 09:00am – 16:00pm


  • 250yen for children
  • 500yen for adults

There are no roads from the park entrance to the hot springs, so, during the winter months, be prepared to walk for approximately 25mins on a single, snow-covered track through the forest to get to the monkeys.

It's worth the effort !

Discover more Snow Monkey images 

All images © Andrew Sproule | All images from winter 2015


Andrew Sproule Photography (ASP), is a home for telling stories. A place where experiences and exploits are shared and valuable insight in to the worlds of Wildlife, Travel and Cultural photography is provided.

Conveying thought-provoking, inspirational stories through imagery has always been the aspiration and continues to be fundamental to ASP's approach, whether it's Snow Monkeys in JapanBrown Bears in Finland or Iceland's Attractions..

Andrew is also a designer and business strategist and has headed up a number of highly successful in-house creative design and photography studios for some of the UK's top brands, including QANTAS, Virgin, Flight Centre and Cath Kidston.