Sights to See
Bathe with the snow monkeys!
Cautionary Points and Rules

In Japan, human aren’t the only ones that enjoy hot springs. At some hot springs, such as the one at Jigokudani Yaen-Koen, monkeys too bathe in the hot, relaxing waters during the winter months. At Jigokudani Yaen-Koen’s Snow Monkey Park, you can see the wild monkeys unwinding and warming up in the hot springs.

About Jigokudani Yaen-Koen

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen entrance view


Jigokudani Yaen-Koen is a park with wild monkeys, located in the Shimotakai-gun area of Nagano prefecture. It lies in the valley of Yokoyugawa River, and is 850 meters above sea level. The area is a hot springs hotspot, and you can see the steam rising from the springs constantly.

The park opened in 1964. Before then, the wild monkeys of the area had lost their habitat due to deforestation. The founder of the park then baited the monkeys to a different area (where the park currently locates), and kept them there.

The bathing snow monkeys

A snow monkey at the Jigokudani-Yaen-Koen bathing in a hot spring

A bathing snow monkey

At the Jigokudan Yaen-Koen, you can see snow monkeys bathing in the park’s hot springs. The monkeys are used to humans, so they area relaxed while they are bathing.

Although it is unclear why the monkeys are bathing, it is said to be that the monkeys, like humans, bathe in the hot springs for warmth and relaxation.

In 1964, one baby monkey started bathing in an outdoor hot spring facility at the nearby Gorakukan onsen. The adult monkeys began imitating the baby monkey, and the hot spring was eventually filled with monkeys.

A monkey-only hot spring facility was then created within the park. This is the only place in the world where monkeys have their own hot spring to bathe in.

Popular overseas, too!

Visitors from overseas at the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen is popular amongst visitors from overseas as well

In 1970, LIFE, an American magazine, featured the bathing monkey on the cover. They referred to the monkeys as “snow monkeys”. Since then, Jigokudani Yaen-Koen has been a popular spot for foreign visitors.

Snow monkeys in the winter

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen snow monkeys in the hot springs during the winter

Snow monkeys bathing in the snow

The monkeys bathe in the hot spring year-round, but during the winter is when you can see the most monkeys in the hot spring. Where Jigokudani Yaen-Koen is located is an area with heavhy snowfall, and at its peak, the snowfall can measure up to 1 meter.

The snow monkeys in the hot springs are looking for warmth, just as humans would too during the winter months. They bathe in the hot waters while snow rests on their heads.

Bathe with the snow monkeys!

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen Gorakukan


Gorakukan, a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), locates right next to Jigokudani Yaen-Koen. The hotel has a history of 150 years, and this is one of the most famous hot springs spot in the Jigokudani area. Visitor can visit the hot springs on a day trip just for the hot springs.

If you’re extra lucky, you might be able to bathe with the monkeys. The monkeys sometimes enter the outdoor baths at Gorakukan. Just be careful that you don’t get too close to them.

Shibu no Jigoku spring

Shibu no Jigoku Spring

Shibu no Jigoku spring

Right next to Jigokudani Yaen-Koen is Shibu no Jigoku spring, a bubbling geyser. The spring is a national natural monument, and at times spews out up to 20 meters high.

Cautionary Points and Rules

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen list of cautionary points and rules

List of cautionary points and rules

There are a few rules at Jigokudani Yaen-Koen in order to keep the wild monkeys safe.

Don’t show or feed the monkeys food

Once the monkeys learn to receive food from humans, they will be conditioned to go near humans and even look through bags. Do not feed or even show food in front of the monkeys.

Don’t touch the monkeys; keep some distance in between

Wild monkeys will feel threatened if touched, and possibly bite or attack. Staring at them or opening your mouth at them will also make them feel threatened. Keep a fair amount of distance between yourself and the monkeys to prevent any attacks and injuries.

No pets allowed

Monkeys generally dislike other animals. The monkeys will feel threatened and uncomfortable if you bring any pets, such as dogs or cats, so do not bring them with you.

No selfie sticks

Selfie sticks will make monkeys feel threatened. To avoid any potential conflict, do not use selfie sticks in front of the monkeys.


Nearest station: Kanbayashi Onsen Bus Stop

From Nagano Station

【Nagano Sta.】Nagano Electric Railway Nagano Line / for Yudanaka
→【Yudanaka Sta.】Nagaden Bus / for Kanbayashi Onsen
→【Kanbayashi Onsen Bus Stop】→ about a 30-minute walk

From Tokyo Station

【Tokyo Sta.】Hokuriku Shinkansen / for Kanazawa
→ 【Nagano Sta.】Nagano Electric Railway Nagano Line / for Yudanaka
→【Yudanaka Sta.】Nagaden Bus / for Kanbayashi Onsen
→【Kanbayashi Onsen Bus Stop】→ about a 30-minute walk


6845 Hirao, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano
Apr. to Oct.: 8:30a.m. - 5:00p.m.
Nov. to Mar.: 9:00a.m. - 4:00p.m.
Open year-round
Adults: ¥800
High school students and below: ¥400

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