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Chubu | Nagano | Yudanaka Onsen

Snow Monkeys

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Snow Monkeys

The Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano Prefecture is the place where you can see Snow Monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The park is within the natural habitat for the Japanese Macaque, which is Jigokudani Valley in Yamanouchi. It is close to the onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka. To give better access to people wanting to see the snow monkeys they built a man-made onsen (hot spring) for the primates to enjoy. Snow monkeys are known to have thick coats of fur for the cold weather. The color of their fur is of a brown-grey variety and their faces are red. They have short tails and as species they are referred to as Nihonzaru.

Jigokudani Monkey Park was first established in 1964 near the Yokoyu River. Jigokudani translates to Hell Valley and it is called that because of the steam coming from the natural hot springs resembles mythological description of it. Back before the park opened the snow monkeys would sneak into onsens at hotels, hostels, and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) to stay warm during the winter. The Japanese Macaques can be found in different parts of Japan, but in the Jigokudani Monkey Park their unusual love for the onsen can be seen. Thousands of visitors go to the area to take photos the snow monkeys relaxing in the heated water.



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