Jigokundani Monkey Park, Japan omg, this was the best!!! This PARK offers the unique experience of seeing these cute little guys in the “wild”. I originally understood this to be a natural park that just existed in nature. To my surprise, the park is completely manmade for the benefit of both monkeys and humans.
The Korakukan Ryokan Hot Spring Inn has been in operation since the mid-1800s. Throughout the years, troops of monkeys would travel down to the valley to be fed by guests frequenting the outside baths. No one really knows the exact date that the monkeys decided to take their first plunge into the hot waters, but word got out in the animal kingdom of where to go for a snack and a warm bath. More and more monkeys were coming to the Inn and hence, became a nuisance. The monkeys weren’t such a novelty anymore, especially once they moved beyond the inn and began raiding the neighborhoods for food and anything else they could get their hands on.
In 1964, the Snow Monkey Park was established to give the fuzzy creatures their own space to enjoy the warm temperatures. The park also wanted to educate visitors on primate behavior and give them the ability to see the little monkeys up close. This also kept the little bandits from pillaging the neighboring farmland. Staff at the park have fed the monkeys every day since its opening. Following their meals and baths, the primates ascend back to the surrounding mountains where they live. They spend the most time in the baths during the colder seasons, typically December through March.
Before you begin your journey, you’ll have to pay a fee to park in a designated lot Follow the path, you will no doubt see monkeys along the way, all the way to the hot springs. I would recommend planning your visit for early in the morning before the crowd swarms in.
Once you arrive at the baths you will see security; this is for the monkeys’ benefit as you are not allowed to approach or touch them. That won’t keep the monkeys from getting close to you! Please be careful of where you step because these guys do not have any problem getting so close to you that you may accidentally step back onto one if you aren’t paying attention. They are incredibly used to humans, so go nuts taking photos to recount your visit for years to come!
Word of caution: Hold onto your valuables! The monkeys are very curious and while I was standing by the pools, a monkey grabbed a fella’s phone and jumped into the bath! You are not allowed to retrieve any belongings. But, in this case, once the monkey was done with the phone, he set it on the side of the baths, on the rocks, and the phone was picked up and returned by one of the security guards.
My name is Kristal and I am so happy to have you visit my site!
I hope that the travel guides, fun facts, and photography you find here will inspire you to explore new places!