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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Chubu - Yamanouchi
Jigokudani Monkey Park 
# 1   of 4 most visited
sights in Yamanouchi

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The Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys. It is located in the monkey's natural habitat, in the forests of the Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi, not far from the onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka.

The park has one man-made pool around which the monkeys gather, located a few minutes' walk from the park entrance. Visitors will likely already encounter monkeys along the path to the pool. The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests. Naturally, it is prohibited to touch or feed the monkeys.

The park has a small information center with information mostly in Japanese. However, there is a small explanation of the alpha male system of the monkey troop in English, as well as portraits of the park's present and former alpha males, dating back dozens of years. There is a live camera beside the monkey pool that is accessible online.

Tourists, a monkey sitting on the park's live video camera, and the monkey bath

Although the park is open all year round, the bathing monkeys are particularly photogenic when the area is covered in snow. There is usually snow in the region from December to March, and the best timing for a visit is January and February. Monkeys enter the bath around the year, but they sometimes need some encouragement to do so by park wardens throwing food into the pool, especially during the warmer seasons of the year.

Jigokudani, in which the park is located, means "hell valley" and is a common name for Japanese valleys with volcanic activity. Although its landscape is not as dramatic as some of Japan's other jigokudani valleys, Yamanouchi's Jigokudani does produce a few steaming hot springs. There is a ryokan called Korakukan in the valley, which visitors will pass along the way to the monkey park.

The approach through Jigokudani valley to the monkey park, passing Korakukan Ryokan, in different seasons

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
There are two approaches to the Monkey Park: one requires a 25-40 minute walk through the forest, while the other requires a 10-15 minute walk from the nearest parking lot.

The first approach involves taking a bus to Kanbayashi Onsen from Yudanaka Station (10-15 minutes, 310 yen, 1-2 buses per hour), Shibu Onsen (5-10 minutes, 190 yen, 1-2 buses per hour) or Nagano Station (40 minutes, 1400 yen, 4-10 buses per day). Buses along the Yudanaka-Kanbayashi Line stop at "Kanbayashi Onsen" bus stop, while other buses stop at "Kanbayashi Onsen-guchi" bus stop, a short walk away. From Kanbayashi Onsen, a 25-40 minute walking trail leads to the monkey park. The walking trail is passable around the year, but sturdy footwear is recommended especially in winter.

The alternative approach involves a 10-15 minute walk from a paid parking lot just to the west of the monkey park. However the narrow road from Shibu Onsen to the parking lot is not served by public transportation and gets closed in winter. Although rather time consuming, it would be possible to walk to the parking lot from Shibu Onsen in about 45-60 minutes when there is no snow.

Some hotels and ryokan in Yudanaka and Shibu offer free shuttle buses to the parking lot for their guests.

How to get to and around Yamanouchi

Hours and Fees
Hours:8:30 to 17:00 (April to October)
9:00 to 16:00 (November to March)
Closed:No closing days
Admission:500 yen

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Hotels and Ryokan
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Kokuya Hotel
Rooms with open air hot bath on balcony! 3min from Yudanaka st. - free pick up, shuttle to Monkey park, English speaking staff.
Shibu Hotel, Nagano
Shibu Hotel is a charming Japanese ryokan in Shibu Onsen. Nearby attractions in this Nagano town include Jigokudani Monkey Park, famous for its snow monkeys.
Wafu-no Yado Masuya
Free shuttle to Monkey Park. The dinner won Best 100 hotel award. Tasteful en-suite Japanese rooms. 100% natural onsen.
Hotel Metropolitan Nagano
Centrally located and conveniently located steps away from JR Nagano Station. It is 1 hour to Yudanaka Station by train.
Hotel Shirakaba-so
3 min to the gate of Shiga Kogen ski resort. Free internet, private bath and outdoor bath. 45 min to the Monkey Park.
Yudanaka Seifu-so
A traditional ryokan with wooden building by Yudanaka Station. Unique onsen - private, open-air, apple, leaf baths etc.
Senshinkan Matsuya
Authentic, wooden ryokan in Shibu Onsen. Internet WiFi available. Offering a shuttle to Monkey Park and Yudanaka Station.
Hishiya Torazo
An authentic onsen ryokan in Shibu Onsen, established in 1843. From 6500Yen. Wi-Fi in lobby. Cute yukata available for ladies. Free transfer to Monkey Park.

User Ratings
Ratings for Monkey Park:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  best of Japan  
User Rating (by 62 users):
92/100
  highly recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 791):
31.  Okunoin Temple (Mount Koya)   93/100
32.  Kobe Beef (Kobe)   92/100
33.  Jomonsugi (Yakushima)   92/100
34.  Yudono-san (Dewa Sanzan)   92/100
35.  Sojiji Temple (Noto Peninsula)   92/100
36.  Monkey Park (Yamanouchi)   92/100
37.  Kinkakuji (Kyoto)   92/100
38.  Toshogu Shrine (Nikko)   91/100
39.  Subashiri 5th Station (Mount Fuji)   91/100
40.  Inari Shrine (Tsuwano)   91/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 925):
466.  Yoshiminedera (Kyoto)   112
467.  Five Lakes (Shiretoko)   111
468.  Asukadera Temple (Asuka)   111
469.  Osaki Hachimangu (Sendai)   111
470.  Ishiteji Temple (Matsuyama)   110
471.  Monkey Park (Yamanouchi)   105
472.  Ikaho Town (Ikaho Onsen)   105
473.  Sumida Aquarium (Tokyo)   105
474.  Ishibutai Tomb (Asuka)   104
475.  Adachi Museum of Art (Matsue)   104

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English Links
Jigokudani Yaen-koen
Official English website of the monkey park with live video camera of the monkey bath.

Japanese Links
Jigokudani Yaen-koen
Official website of the monkey park with live video camera of the monkey bath.

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Related Pages

News and Reports
October 5, 2012
Route 292 Autumn Color Report
by sean

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