Jigokudani Yaenkoen or Snow Monkey Park, as it is more commonly known, is located in the forests of the Jigokudani Valley in Yamanouchi and is home to around 200 Japanese Macaques.
Jigokudani translates to “Hell’s Valley” – an unappealing name but one which simply refers to the fact that this region is frequented with natural hot springs bursting from the ground. It is these same hot springs that have led to the area being populated by the monkeys – bathing in the naturally warm water is great fun for them and is a joy for visitors to watch.
The park was established in 1964 when local people, having noticed the monkeys frequenting the area, used the hot springs to create large pool for them to enjoy. Nowadays the monkeys are accustomed to humans and almost completely ignore their human visitors meaning that visitors can enjoy watching the natural behaviour and interactions of these fascinating creatures although it is of course prohibited to either touch or feed the monkeys.
There is a small information centre at the park but the information given is largely in Japanese with only a little available in English. The park is open year round but the most popular time to visit is from December to March when visitors can enjoy the stunning sight of the monkeys bathing in the springs surrounded by snow.
There are two main ways to get to the park – there is a parking lot a fifteen minute walk from the park for visitors with cars. Some hotels also provide free shuttle buses here for their guests but it isn’t accessible via public transport. Public transport will, however, take you to the "Kanbayashi Onsen-guchi" bus stop from where there is a 25 – 40 minute walking trail to the Snow Monkey Park.
|Type of Activity:||Trips, Tours & Safaris|