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 . . .

SUMMER
April to October 08:30am – 17:00pm

WINTER
November to March 09:00am – 16:00pm

ADMISSION FEES

  • 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 creative, photographic and written content © 2009-2017 Andrew Sproule Photography