Usually when we see monkeys, they are on tree branches, swinging from tree to tree eating bananas. But that is not the case for this place in Japan where you will see something different - monkeys taking their time off soaking themselves in the warmth of Japan’s hot spring.
These snow monkeys can be found at a man-made hot spring park called the Jigokudani Monkey Park, located at Yamanouchi in Nagano. The park is situated at the foot of Shiga Highlands, an area known to the local for its heavy snowfall in winter and its abundance of natural hot spring water.
The Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors a very unique experience of seeing Japanese “snow monkeys” in its most natural habitat. Jidokugani which also means ‘hell’s valley’ got its name from the steep cliffs surrounding the area and the ‘hell’ like steam which can be seen coming off the springs everywhere.
The snow monkeys, also known as the Japanese Macaques can be found all over Japan but only those at the Jigokudani Monkey Park are famous as the “snow monkeys” for their habit of entering the hot spring water. They can be quite entertaining to watch, as their interactions and behaviors are peculiar compared to other kinds of monkeys.
Let's look into some of the amusing things they do.
1. Making Snowballs
The Japanese Snow Monkeys sometimes do things that can be quite adorable. One of the things they do is creating snowballs. With the snowball, they would also carry it around to the envy of other monkeys who try to steal it.
Another thing about these monkeys is that they like mounting on top of each other. However, it is not for the reason of getting the female pregnant. The mounting only happen between males and they mount on each other in order to assert their authority. The lower-ranking males will not protest the mounting as a sign of inferiority as well as to show that they are not hostile.
The "I Mind My Own Business" characteristic
These snow monkeys are safe to get near to. Already accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from a very close range and often are quite friendly. However, visitors are advised not to touch or feed the monkeys to avoid any disruptions to their natural activities.
With all that to say, there’s definitely more than just monkeys in the park. The scenery of the place is also perfect where you can immerse yourself in the finest nature of Japan. Just don’t forget to wear thick clothes when you get there and be sure to take a lot of pictures.