Monday, 21 December 2015

Snow Monkey Park

Yes there's SOME snow on the ground!

Today was the day dedicated especially to cater for Malcolm's obsession with snow monkeys, also known as the Japanese Macaque. It is the day that this man made his family travel for over 2 hours with multiple modes of transport just to see them chilling out in an onsen hot spring. 

The Jigokudani Yaenkoen park is located in the Yokoyu River valley, which flows down from Shiga Kogen.  At an elevation of 850 meters, the area is called Jigokudani ("Hell's Valley") due to the steep cliffs and hot water steaming out from the earth's surface.  It's also a fairly harsh environment in winter with snow on the ground for a third of the year, but it is also a paradise for the couple of hundred monkeys that live there. As much as I was not looking forward to trudge through snow for 20 minutes, I did want to see the monkeys IN snow to make our trip worthwhile! The weather had been so warm in Japan that we were worried. Fortunately, there was enough snow on the ground to qualify!
A 40 minutes bus trip AFTER our 88 minutes Shinkansen train trip

A 1.6km walk from the entrance. The first and last sections were relatively steep but the middle section reasonable flat

Yokuyu River Valley

One my favourite monkey grooming positions EVER!

Ahh...don't disturb me in my onsen

Group bath!

A junior cuddling his/her sibling

It took us a while to gather all the necessary information for our day trip. As we would be travelling with children, we wanted to be sure that it was doable from Tokyo! The images and links below might be helpful for those who wish to make the same pilgrimmage...

An overview of the journey needed to get to the monkeys!

Transport Options
We took option 3 rather than 4 & 5 or 4 & 6
As we already had JR passes, our shinkansen fare from Tokyo to Nagano was covered. The Snow Monkey one-day pass will give unlimited use of the Nagaden Express bus (Nagano station ~ Kanbayashi Onsen-guchi, option 3 in the schema above) and admission to the Snow Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen). This must be purchased at Nagano Station. The tickets sold on the bus are only bus tickets and NOT one day passes.

Our evening was spent at Tokyo Station, getting lost as per usual, shopping at Daimaru, and eating the yummiest tonkatsu ever. Stay tuned for our next day trip to Nikko!

"Information Centre" at Daimaru. Where's there are ipads, it appeared the children must touch it...


  1. I'd love to see the monkeys, but not that much! Seeing we also don't have much time, we couldn't squeeze it in. They are gorgeous though.

  2. I didn't realise this was possible to do as a day trip - on the futures list!