Chilling With the Snow Monkeys in Nagano

Aww, look at their little faces and fluffy heads. So cute! The Nagano snow monkeys are living the monkey dream. After causing absolute havoc in Nagano years ago the locals wanted to get rid. In stepped the environmentalists who said that if they chose an area where the monkeys wouldn’t be a pest and fed them there, they’d stay. And so the Jigokudani Yaenkoen Park began at the Yudanaka Shibu Onsen.

Snow Monkeys in Nagano

It’s a bit of a hike to get up to the Nagano snow monkeys, past geysers, along huge drops and up steps, and the conditions are harsh up there. It’s known as Hell’s Valley thanks to the tough seasons. Once you’ve made it up there though you can see hundreds of snow monkeys chilling, playing about, picking fleas off each other and scurrying about for food. The little troopers can survive the cold as low as -15C. More snow falls in the Japanese Alps than almost anywhere else in the world.

The snow monkeys, or Japanese Macaques to give them their proper name, come every day at 9 until 5 to start their working day. Job description: looking good lounging about in the onsen so tourists can take photos. Tough life. At the end of the day they go back to their trees in their family groups for the night.

Nagano Snow Monkeys

The monkeys are so human like. Grooming each other is vital in the monkey community – it’s how you make friends, and how you get a free meal. Glad us humans don’t have to go quite that far.

Lucky for us it was a beautiful day and an easy hike the day I went. As you can see from the pics – it was the best 500 yen (£3) spent ever!

Nagano Snow Monkeys
Snow Monkeys in Nagano Nagano Snow Monkeys Nagano Snow Monkeys Nagano Snow Monkeys Nagano Snow Monkeys Snow Monkeys in Nagano


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  1. by zoomingjapan on January 20, 2015  4:41 pm Reply

    I enjoyed it so much when I stayed there although it was freezing cold.
    I just went back into the hut to warm up several times. The monkeys were awesome. ^___^

    I highly recommend visiting the monkeys in winter when in or near Nagano. Nearby Matsumoto Castle is also a must-see. :)

    • by Vicky on January 21, 2015  1:34 pm Reply

      It wasn't too bad when I was there. The guide we had for the trip said it was one of the best days he'd ever been and that sometimes you have to hike through knee deep snow to get there. Lucky me!

  2. by Cathy (MummyTravels) on January 20, 2015  10:37 pm Reply

    Love these! Didn't get chance to see them on my visit but would love to go back.

    • by Vicky on January 21, 2015  1:30 pm Reply

      Ah you definitely should! So cute and funny to watch them going about their day in the hot springs while all us tourists are looking on :)

  3. by Cherie on January 21, 2015  4:46 am Reply

    Love your blog post! The little baby monkeys are so adorable!! How did they react towards people? It seems like they were just minding their own business, relaxing! So cute! Hope to go there when I finally visit Japan :)

    • by Vicky on January 21, 2015  1:30 pm Reply

      Ah thanks Cherie :) They weren't bothered at all. Often a tourist would be focused on the ones in the hot spring and then another would come and brush up against their leg and they'd squeal. Pretty funny!

  4. by Laura McLoughlin on January 21, 2015  11:05 am Reply

    Such a stunning video and lovely post! The monkey's face in the background of your last selfie is amazing - he looks so confused by the situation.

    • by Vicky on January 21, 2015  1:29 pm Reply

      Yeah I got him at a pretty funny moment didn't I?! It was a great day – I hope you get to go sometime :)

  5. by Kathryn Burrington on January 21, 2015  2:45 pm Reply

    How wonderful. While I'm very envious I'm also delighted for you! Love the video and your pictures - so cute indeed!

  6. by winny on January 22, 2015  6:57 am Reply

    i can not imagine how these monkeys survive in snow

  7. by Ed Rex on January 22, 2015  8:24 am Reply

    Amazing pictures Vicky. I feel like having a hot bath myself.

    I love the picture of the blond haired snow monkey that's wearing hat. I don't know why she didn't get in the hot pools with the others. I suppose it was busy taking selfies and looking as gorgeous as always. Wait...oh my god...I'm so sorry! ;)

    • by Vicky on January 22, 2015  12:45 pm Reply

      Haha, oi you! That made me lol. Very funny.... :)

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  9. by Jan (@Chimptrips) on March 26, 2020  10:55 am Reply

    What a wonderful experience, though some of those monkeys really are looking quite sorry for themselves and in need of a warm up!

    • by VickyFlipFlop on April 22, 2020  9:13 am Reply

      Oh it was nice and toasty in the spring! Think they're having a brilliant time in there to be honest. Most chilled out monkeys I've ever seen. Probably a bit nippy getting out though!

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