A “Miraculous” park where you can observe wild monkeys at close range Jigokudani Yaen-koen
Jigokudani Yaen-koen is located in Joshin’etsu-kogen National Park in northern Nagano Prefecture. It is nestled in a valley of the Yokoyu River, which rises in the highlands of Shiga Kogen.
Covered in snow for a third of the year, this park in the mountains lies a 2km, 30–40-minute walk from Kamibayashi Onsen.
Why do the monkeys live here, so deep in the mountains?
The wild monkeys (Japanese macaques) prefer to live deep in the mountains, far from human settlements.
When you visit Jigokudani Yaen-koen, you are seeing the monkeys in their natural habitat.
Most monkey species inhabit warm regions.
Japanese macaques are the most northerly-living monkey species on Earth.
This is why they are called “snow monkeys” and why they attract so much interest.
Perhaps the best-loved sights at Jigokudani Yaen-koen are those of the monkeys “enjoying a hot-spring bath.”
However, they can be observed at close range in a wide variety of activities throughout the year.
The monkeys become especially active in the spring, when many babies are born. In the summer, when the mountains are thickly grown with lush green vegetation, the monkeys become slimmer and their summer fur grows in.
The baby monkeys born in the spring separate from their mothers and move around. In the fall, with the turning of the leaves, there is plenty to eat, as the trees are ripe with nuts and berries. When winter arrives, the monkeys take on a rounder appearance in their fluffy winter fur. To fend off the cold, the monkeys bathe in natural hot springs, creating an unforgettable sight for visitors.
The sight of the monkeys bathing is often relaxing for sightseers as well.
Enjoy the sight of Japanese macaques living in the wild in Jigokudani, a valley whose beauty changes with the passing of the seasons.