Jigokudani Yaen - Snow Monkey

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park – Best Tours

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is a winter wonderland that beckons adventurers worldwide. 

Nestled in the mountains of Nagano, Japan, the park is home to a unique group of wild Japanese macaques who like to bathe in the park’s natural hot springs. Watching these playful monkeys in their natural habitat is truly unforgettable, and the photo opportunities are truly Instagrammable.

Snow Monkey of Instagram (1)

The great news is there are a variety of tours available to get you to the park with as little hassle as possible. Most tours include an English guide and combine a visit to the Snow Monkey Park with other cultural experiences.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best tours to visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.

Before You Take Your Tour

Before taking a snow monkey tour, here are some essential tips and information:

  1. Walking Distance: The trail to the Snow Monkey Park is approximately 1.6 km one way through a forested area.
  2. Weather: Check the weather forecast before heading out. Dress accordingly and be prepared for outdoor conditions.
  3. Camera and Photography: Don’t forget to bring your camera or smartphone to capture the incredible moments with the snow monkeys. However, avoid getting too close or disturbing the monkeys while taking photos.
  4. Respect Wildlife: Remember that snow monkeys are wild animals. Keep a safe distance and avoid feeding or touching them. It’s important to respect their natural habitat and behavior.
  5. Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour for a more informative and organized experience. Experienced guides can provide exciting insights and ensure a smooth trip.

Enjoy your snow monkey tour and have a fantastic time exploring the beauty of nature!

1 – Ski Japan Holidays – Snow Monkey Hotspring Tour

Snow-Monkey-Tour-Ski-Japan-Holidays

Operating Dates: 

  • Daily (except Jan 1st): Dec. 22nd, 2023 – Feb 29th 2024 
  • Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat: Mar. 1st, 2024 – Mar. 30th, 2024

Cost

  • Adults: ¥15,000
  • Children (3 – 11): ¥10,000

Departure Locations

  • Wadano Rhythm – 8:00- 17:30, 9:00 – 18:30
  • Happo Bus Terminal 8:05 – 17:30, 9:05 – 18:30
  • Echoland Spicy – 8:10 – 17:30, 9:10 – 18:30
  • Goryu Bus Stop – 8:20 – 17:30, 9:20 – 18:30

 Visit the world-famous Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park. Embark on an unforgettable adventure with the Snow Monkey Tour in Hakuba! Over 200 wild monkeys soak in the natural hot springs to stave off the winter chill. 

After visiting the monkeys, discover the historic town of Obuse, home to renowned Japanese artist Hokusai and the Masuichi Sake Brewery. Indulge in a traditional Japanese meal with a choice of main courses, dessert, and a glass of rice wine Sake.

Finally, immerse yourself in the rich history of Nagano City. Explore the revered Zenkoji Temple, a national treasure with a legacy of over 1,400 years. Marvel at the first image of Buddha brought to Japan in the 7th century. As you stroll through the temple’s surroundings, you’ll encounter charming lantern-lit shops, tiered-roofed stalls, and captivating galleries.

Don’t miss out on this captivating Snow Monkey Tour. Experience nature, history, and the wonders of Japan all in one remarkable journey!

2 – Nagano Snow Monkey Resorts

Snow Monkey Tour Snow Monkey Resorts

Operating Dates: 

  • Dec. 15th, 2023 – Mar. 31st 2024

Cost

  • Adults: ¥17,800
  • Children (3 – 11): ¥11,000

Departure Locations

  • Hakuba Tokyu Hotel – 7:40 – after 17:30
  • Happo Bus Terminal – 7:55 – after 17:30

Start your journey with a visit to Zenko-ji, one of Japan’s oldest and most significant Buddhist temples. Immerse yourself in the rich culture as you explore the temple grounds and discover its intriguing legends and myths. Indulge in a sake-tasting session and savor a delightful lunch at a nearby restaurant.

Next, you head to the renowned Snow Monkey Park, home to the famous hot spring-bathing monkeys. See these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat while your locally-based English-speaking guide shares insightful information about their behavior and habitat.

Throughout the tour, you’ll be accompanied by an experienced guide who will provide fascinating commentary and ensure a seamless experience. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover the highlights of Nagano and create unforgettable memories.

This winter-only tour includes a convenient shuttle service from and to Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal between Dec. 15th and Mar. 31st at no additional charge.

3 – Self-Guided Tour

Jigokudani Monkey Park Entrance Fee:

  • Adult: ¥800
  • Child(6 – 17): ¥400

By Car

By Bus

Hakuba – Nagano – Jigukudani Entrance

Getting to the park with public transportation is possible. From the Hakuba Bus Terminal, take the Alpico bus to Nagano Station. Then, transfer to the Express bus to Shiga Kogen. The Shiga Kogen bus makes a stop at the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Be sure to get off at the Snow Monkey Park.

Alternatively, from Nagano City, you can take the train to Yudanaka Station and, from there, take a bus to the Snow Monkey Park.

The Japanese Monkey

The Japanese Monkey, or Japanese macaque, is native to Japan and is most noted for their distinctive behavior of soaking in hot springs during winter. They inhabit various environments across Japan, ranging from subtropical lowlands to subalpine regions, thus making them the world’s most northern-living non-human primates.

Their distinctive red faces and grey, brown, or sometimes almost white fur make them easily recognizable. Snow Monkeys are highly social creatures and live in troops with a strict hierarchy. The Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano is one of the most famous destinations to observe these creatures up close, especially during winter when they descend from the snowy mountains to enjoy the park’s hot spring.

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Jigokudani Monkey Park, also known as Jigokudani Yaen Koen, was established in 1964 and is nestled in the heart of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park in the Yokoyu River valley. Jigokudani translates to ‘Hell’s Valley,’ a name inspired by the cliffs and hot steam that envelop the area. 

The park is a conservation area where the indigenous snow monkeys can live and thrive in their natural habitat without human interference. However, the unique behavior of the monkeys soaking in the hot springs during winter caught the attention of both local and international tourists, transforming Jigokudani into a famed tourist spot. Despite the influx of visitors, the park prioritizes the monkeys’ welfare, ensuring they live in a safe and natural environment.

Conclusion

Jigokudani Yaen is an unforgettable experience. The bathing monkeys are a site to behold. Combined with the beautiful winter scenery, it makes for a truly captivating sight. Visitors can also learn more about these fascinating creatures at the park’s informative exhibit and observe their daily lives from a safe distance. The park is open all year round, but the best time to visit is during winter when the monkeys’ behavior is unique. A trip to Jigokudani Monkey Park is a must for any animal lover or nature enthusiast visiting Japan. So why not add it to your travel itinerary and witness these adorable snow monkeys in action?

How many monkeys can you see at the Snow Monkey Park?

There are approximately 200 Japanese macaques living in Jigokudani Yaen.

When is the best time to visit the Snow Monkey Park?

While there are tours year-round, the best time to visit the park is during winter, from December to March, when bathing monkeys can be observed. 

Is English spoken at the park?

While most staff at the park may not speak fluent English, signs and information are available in multiple languages, including English. Guided tours are also available in English through various tour companies.

Are there any other attractions near the park?

Several other attractions are near Jigokudani Monkey Park, including Shibu Onsen village and the famous Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City. Visitors can also enjoy hiking and skiing in the surrounding mountains.

Can I take photos at the park?

Yes, visitors can take photos at the park, but respecting the monkeys and their environment is essential. Flash photography is prohibited, and visitors are advised to keep a safe distance from the monkeys.

Is it safe to visit Jigokudani Monkey Park?

It is generally safe to visit the park and interact with the monkeys. However, following the rules and guidelines is essential to ensure visitor and monkey safety. It is also advised to visit during non-peak seasons with fewer visitors and less chance of overcrowding.

Are there other day tours from Hakuba?

Yes, there are a variety of other excellent day tours from Hakuba, including – Matsumoto Castle, Naraijuku, Kanazawa, and more.

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