Japanese monkeys must have one of the longest life spans in the world. After all, in addition to eating, sleeping and going around their usual monkey business, they dip in onsens! No wonder their faces are always so ruddy and red.
With the Hokuriku Shinkansen starting operations on 14 March, Nagano will become a lot nearer to the Japan Sea and its bordering prefectures such as Kanazawa, Fukui and Toyama. But in this post, we’re going to focus on a site that you must visit at least once in a lifetime. It’s a 44 minute ride from Nagano Station by – what else – the Snow Monkey Line on the Nagano Railway!
On the way, you’ll pass by Mount Asama, one of the most active volcanoes in Japan.
Yudanaka is the last stop of the line and where you get off to see the snow monkeys. From the station it’s a 10 minute bus ride to the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
The snow monkey hideaway is a 20-30 minute walk from the entrance, depending on the length of your legs! Snow shoes are a must, but don’t worry if you don’t own any, you can borrow a pair for 500 yen from the tourist information-cum-convenience store at the foot of the entrance.
The walk is mostly flat, other than the initial stairway, no worries!
And when you finally reach the promised Land of the Snow Monkeys, you’re just a 500 yen park entry ticket away from…
…the monkeys and a whole hoard of photographers with expensive lenses!
But apparently these monkeys don’t always fancy a dip in the onsen. After all, you can have too much of a good thing. On sunny days, they shun the hot spring to frolic in the sun. On this particular day, the snow monkeys were teasing the paparazzi by just sipping (and peeing into) the onsen pool.
The snow monkey park is open all year round, and though everyone flocks to see the monkeys in the snow, it’ll be interesting to know what the monkeys do during the summer!