4 Essential Tips For Seeing the Snow Monkeys in Jigokudani, Japan

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi-machi, Japan.
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi-machi, Japan. Photo by Boris Guyon-Pelfrene on Unsplash

You might have come across pictures of Japanese snow monkeys, or Japanese macaques, relaxing in hot springs, surrounded by snow. These images became so viral, they inspired travelers from all around the world to come to see them in their natural habitat in Japan. If this is something you’re interested in, here are a few tips for visiting the Japanese snow monkeys.

Where are the Snow Monkeys Found?

The most famous spot for seeing Japanese macaques is Jigokudani Monkey Park, located in Japan’s Nagano prefecture. During the winter the monkeys often seek shelter from the cold in the area’s onsen or hot springs. The park was built in 1964, to prevent the monkeys from entering the hot springs dedicated to humans in the area’s inns. Today, the snow monkeys roam freely around the park, bathing in their own dedicated hot springs.

Best Time To Visit Jigokudani Park

The best months to visit Jigokudani Monkey Park are January and February. During this period snowfall is at its highest and temperatures are low enough that most of the monkeys will relax in the soothing hot waters.

A Few General Tips for Visiting the Park

While the park and the monkeys are tended to by park rangers, they are still very much wild animals and should be treated as such: don’t go get too close to them and don’t carry any food with you.

It’s also best to confirm the monkey’s presence with the car-park attendant before you start the 1.5km walk through the forest from the car park to the Monkey Park. There is also a webcam link on the Monkey Park website where you can see what’s going on.