Located in the Yamanouchi district, one of the most northern regions of Japan, Jigokudani is the ultimate and privileged location to watch snow monkeys interact, bond and just chill out. A couple of hundred extraordinary Japanese macaque, or snow monkeys, are resident here and revel in this breathtaking setting.
Jigokundani is translated into ‘Hell’s Valley’ in English, which seems apt given the eerie, yet beautiful surroundings. Steep cliffs stagger in the background, while hot water steams from the earth, and for over a third of the year, the park is relentlessly covered in heavy, crisp snow. This freezing setting is paradise for the distinctive grey-furred, red-faced snow monkeys; they are often found just bathing and lazing about in the natural hot springs.
There are other major attractions of this wintry wonderland nearby, such as the Shiga Kogen Ski Area, Japan’s largest ski resort, Shibu Onsen, a charming old hot spring town, and Yudanaka Onsen, a more developed hot spring town.
WHEN TO GO
You can visit the snow monkeys all year round, there is usually snow in the region from December to March.
What to do
- Visit the snow monkeys
- Go skiing at the Shiga Kogen Ski Area
- Visit the hot spring towns of Shibu Onsen & Yudanaka Onsen