Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park @ Yamanouchi, Japan - Part 1

Jigokudani snow monkey park provide visitors great experience to watch wild snow monkey bathing in a natural onsen or hot spring. The park is the habitat of Japanese Macaques. These snow monkey are very photogenic especially if you visit during the winter time as the area will be covered with snow and the monkeys will soak in the hot spring pool. The snow monkey park is located in the forest of Jigokudani valley (Hell's Valley) in Yamanouchi which is around 15 minutes bus ride from the Onsen town of Yudanaka. The area named as Jigokudani (Hell's valley) because the steep cliffs and hot water, bursting from the earth's surface, resembled hell. However, this place is paradise for monkeys with 200 monkeys stay around the area at present. It is a harsh environment here where snow covers the ground for one-third of the year. Many visitors and photographers have came to this snow monkey park to study the unique and fascinating behaviour of the Japanese Macaques. The monkeys can be observed from very close and there is no barrier between the monkeys. This is not a zoo. The monkeys here move freely. It is prohibited to touch or feed the monkeys. There is a live camera beside the monkey pool which you can observe the monkey in the pool online.

Please continue to read below for guide to get to Jigokudani Snow Monkey park.
I do recommend visit to this park during winter. You may see the difference between visiting during summer and winter below.

Just to show how photogenic snow monkeys are during the winter. The 4 photos below are from the Internet. They are amazingly adorable.

Snow monkeys in hot spring/onsen.

The snow and the water vapors add the dramatic effect of the photo. The monkeys react as they feel very comfortable in the hot spring.

Mother and child.

Mother and child. Showing close relationship between mother and child.

How to go to Jigokudani Snow monkey park?

To visit the Snow monkey park, you need to travel from Nagano station. I would like to recommend you to purchase the snow monkey one day pass at 2,900 Yen for greater savings if you travel by public transport. It covers both trains and buses from Nagano to Yudanaka, bus from Yudanaka to Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop and entrance fee into snow monkey park. You will receive the monkey chop when you reached the snow monkey park entrance. This pass is also a guide which indicate the bus and train timing.

Wait for this Nagano Dentetsu limited express train to bring you straight from Nagano station to Yudanaka in 50 minutes. Its a express train for this route to snow monkey park.

Clean and comfortable Nagano Dentetsu train.

Scenic beauty of countryside of Japan. You can see many farms around. They have done quite well at self sustainable food resources.

When you reached Yudanaka, take this Shigakogen shuttle bus to Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop.

Shigakogen shuttle bus is a old type of bus but its clean.

The bus will drop you at this bus stop. Then you need to find way to walk up the hill to snow monkey park from here.

Map to snow monkey park.

Kanbayashi Onsen.

Follow the sign.

You will pass by Enza Cafe.

Modern concept cafe with bicycle rental.

Snow monkey souvenir shop.

The starting journey to Snow monkey park. Make sure you wear comfortable shoe with tight grip. Its 30 minutes walk from here.

Me selfie at the beginning of 1.6km journey.

Beware of wildlife on the path towards the snow monkey park. There are possible encounter of snakes, wild boar and deer.

Starting steep uphill path. This is just a short walk uphill. After that is almost flat walking surface.

It's jungle trekking.

Be careful, don't fall down into the trees.

Food for human beings. Haha...

Another 1km.

Enjoying the jungle trekking.

Flat path all the way.

No drone. Haha...

You are almost there!

See no evil, hear no evil and say no evil.

The building is a spa. Jigokudani spa.

Final facts of snow monkey.

First snow monkey spotted. Hurray!

Its very hot when reaching here during summer.

Hot water from ground.

There are spa and onsen around.

Climb this stairs to the snow monkey park.

Aerial view of Hell's valley.

Make sure you follow the safety reminder. Don't touch or scare the monkeys, no other animals such as dogs and cats, do not feed the monkeys, do not eat in front of the monkeys and stay a distance when taking photos of the monkeys.

Finally, you reached the entrance to snow monkey park. You will need to purchase ticket here. Or if you have snow monkey one day pass, you need to show them and they will put a chop on your pass. Look, there are three snow monkeys on the roof.

GPS/Coordinate: 36.732651, 138.462145
Address: 6845 Hirao Yamanouchi-machi Shimotakai-gun, Nagano 381-0401 Japan
Public transport: From Nagano station. Take the limited express snow monkey train to Yudanaka. As you reached Yudanaka, take a bus from Yudanaka to Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop. Then follow the sign and you need to walk 40 minutes to reach the Snow monkey park entrance.
Opening hours: Open daily. 8:30 to 17:00 (April to October) and 9:00 to 16:00 (November to March).
Fee: 500 Yen.


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