Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Nagano
Population
2,214,409

Jigokudani Monkey Park

The snow monkeys know how to enjoy life — they go to hell.

It is not difficult to see why countless visitors flock to the famous “hell” in Nagano Prefecture especially in winter.

The world-famous “Snow Monkey Park” is located in the Valley of Yokoyu River in northern Nagano, where steep cliffs and steaming hot springs in the area resemble harsh hell-like conditions — but in a picturesque kind of way. Hence the park name Jigokudani, which literally means “Hell Valley” in Japanese.

Thanks to the heavy snow that the park receives each year, we are able to watch families of Japanese macaque monkeys happily bathe in roasting hot springs up close.

The drive up to Jigokudani through a mountainous forest is quite bendy and narrow. But once you arrive, you will instantly realize the changes in your surrounding landscape. Suddenly, there are only cliffs, rivers and steam coming from small hot springs.

Visitors need to walk for about 15 minutes to get to the main area. Other than the hot baths, there is also a ramp that leads to a nearby river. The park isn’t very big itself, but the surroundings are for sure other-worldly. On your way there, you may be greeted by monkeys, either energetically running around or quietly observing the nearby humankind.

Winter is by far the best season to visit as the snow monkeys are most likely to be bathing in the hot springs.

The park is open all-year round and is beautiful in all seasons. Winter, though, is by far the best season to visit as the snow monkeys are most likely to be bathing in the hot springs, which is listed as one of GaijinPot’s Travel’s iconic cultural experiences. Needless to say, the bathing monkeys are cute to watch. Monkey babies napping on their mother’s tummy also makes an adorable scene.

Nagano

Monkeys bathing in the onsen in Nagano
There are over 160 snow monkeys at Jigokudani. Visitors can get close, but make sure you don’t touch or feed them. (There are plenty of staff members checking human behaviors.)

Unfortunately, the outdoor hot bath is only for the monkeys, but there is no need to be jealous. You can take a dip in the ryokan (Japanese style inn) called Jigokudani Onsen Korakukan, which is on your way to the park entrance.

If you’d like more hot spring options, know that you’re in a hot spring town already! Shibu Onsen and Yudanaka Onsen are two other popular destinations in the Yamanouchi area, so make sure you take your time and soak in the Nagano vibes besides adoring fluffy, pink-faced snow monkeys.

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Trivia

Monkeys bathing in the onsen in Nagano

Nagano

World-class winter sports, hot springs (occasionally monkey-filled), delicious local food and a foreigner-friendly vibe.

More

Things To Know

Hours

The park is officially open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., you will not be allowed to go in after 3:30 p.m.

Fees

Entrance: Adults: ¥800, Children: ¥400

Take care

The uneven unpaved path leading to the park can get quite slippery and snowy so please wear sturdy shoes. A walking stick may be helpful, too.

How To Get There

Address

Jigokudani Monkey Park, 6845 Hirao, Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture 381-0401, Japan

By train

Take a train to either Nagano station or Yudanaka station, then you must take a bus to the location. See “By Bus” below. (No train runs directly to this park.)

By bus

There are two routes available:

  • From Nagano station, take an express bus bound for Shiga Kogen and get off at the Snow Monkey Park station. From there, the park is about a 35-minute walk away.
  • Alternatively, take the Nagano Dentetsu Line Limited Express from Nagano station to Yudanaka station. From there, take a 15-minute bus to Kanbayashi Onsen station. Jigokudani Park will be about a 35-minute walk from there.
By car

Exit at the Shinshu Nakano Interchange on the Joshin-etsu Expressway. From there, drive another 8 KM to the free parking lot at Kanbayashi Onsen parking lot. The park is about a 30-minute walk from the parking lot. To the west of the monkey park is a paid parking lot that is only 15 minutes away from the park.

Where To Stay

Jigokudani Onsen Korakukan
  • Heion 6818-1 Shimotakai-Gun Yamanochi-Machi, Nagano 381-0401
  • 8.5/10
  • 0.1 km
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Kotobuki
  • Hirao 1415-1 Shimotakai-Gun Yamanochi-Machi, Nagano 381-0401
  • 9.4/10
  • 1.6 km
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Senjukaku
  • Hirao 1410 Shimotakai-Gun Yamanochi-Machi, Nagano 381-0401
  • 9.4/10
  • 1.7 km
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Jinpyokaku
  • Hirao 1409 Shimotakai-Gun Yamanochi-Machi, Nagano 381-0401
  • 9.7/10
  • 1.8 km
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