VISIT DATE: May 2018
APPROX PRICE PER PERSON: 3200 YEN (if you have the Japan RailPass)
WHEN TO VISIT: December – March (if you want the snow)
SNOW MONKEY TOURS: Book Snow Monkey Tours with Viator
Jigokudani Monkey Park is part of the larger Joshinetsu Kogen National Park. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of cracks in the frozen ground.
The valley is famous for its population of wild Japanese macaques more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys. They congregate in the valley during the colder winter months and tend to forage elsewhere in the national park during the warmer part of the year. By day the monkeys descend from the cliffs to sit in the warm waters of the Onsen (hot springs).
Is it worth it? Looking online we found lots of mixed reviews about visiting the snow monkeys. Our opinion, if you are heading to the Nagano region or the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route then it is definitely worth a stop to see these beautiful unique creatures and it’s very easy to do it yourself, you do not need to book onto an expensive tour!
If you are planning to visit as a day trip from Tokyo we would only recommended the trip if there is snow. Without the snow the surroundings are not great, looking more like derelict land than the beautiful hot springs you see in the typical photos. However, that being said, whatever the conditions you do get to see the monkeys up close and that makes for great photographs.