A Photo Tour – Jigokudani Monkey Park

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Photo Tour of Jigokudani Monkey Park

Alyse and I both agree that the stand out highlight from our trip to Nagano was our day trip to Jigokudani Monkey Park. One troop of Japanese macaques (Snow Monkeys) chooses to live here all year round, using the onsens to escape the harsh winters of the alps.

According to a few different sources, about 50 years ago, Japanese macaques watched humans bathing in a hot spring near an inn in the mountains. The monkeys decided to get out of the cold too, and eventually joined the humans. The monkeys, not being well potty-trained, started using the bathroom while soaking, much to the displeasure of the hotel guests. A new monkey-only pool was constructed, but in winter months when the hot water is in high demand, some of the macaques will come down and bathe with the people again.

In addition to being a source of heat, the hot springs have turned into social sites. The macaques spend a great deal of time relaxing, socializing, and grooming one another. However, the alphas decide who can come in and who can sit out and watch in the snow.

We took the following pictures while there and wanted share these with you all.  We hope you like them!

Japan monkey

male snow monkey

snow monkey brothers

MotMother and baby snow monkey

snow monkey in a bucket

sleeping monkey

baby snow monkey


snow monkeys grooming

Snow monkey in a tree

Seeing the Snow Monkeys in this park was one the greatest things we’ve ever seen and was a bucket list item for us both ever since we saw them on the “Planet Earth” series.

We wanted to end this post with a quick video taking you right to the onsen and bathing snow monkeys.  Enjoy!

Till next time,




Lover of travel, photography, nature, movies, and nachos. If you love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings we'll probably become best friends.

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