Meet the World-Famous Hot-spring Loving Snow Monkeys
Year-round activities in and around Jigokudani Monkey Park
You’ve seen the photos—a troop of monkeys relaxing in a natural hot spring surrounded by snowdrifts. Jigokudani Monkey Park is where the famous “snow monkeys” live, and visitors are welcome all year round.
“Snow Monkey Park,” as it is also known, was set aside within Joshin’etsu Kogen National Park as a refuge for the Japanese macaques who live in the hinterlands of this beautiful, mountainous area. The monkeys learned to use the local hot springs by copying visitors to resorts in the area.
Monkey-watching is just one of the area’s many attractions. Many all-day tours are available combining snow monkey observation and photo opportunities with other activities, from skiing or snowmobiling in the Shiga Kogen ski resort to visiting Zenkoji, an ancient temple that houses the oldest known Buddhist statue in Japan. The historic hot spring towns of Shibu and Yudanaka also have plenty of places to eat, bathe, and spend the night.
When the snows melt in May, “green season” comes to Shiga Kogen. The hiking is magnificent, with high elevations readily accessible via gondolas and ski lifts. In summer, these cool highlands are an excellent place to beat the heat.
Access: From Tokyo Station, take the Shinkansen bullet train to Nagano Station (about 100 minutes). From Nagano Station, take the express bus to Kanbayashi Onsen (about 50 minutes).
Snow Monkey Resort Nagano Office
2159 Kurita, Nagano-shi, Nagano-ken