When Paige invited me to come meet her in mainland Japan, one of the first things she said she wanted to see was the famous snow monkeys in Nagano - it has been on my bucketlist since we came over here! #ilovemonkeys #istillwantapetmonkey
So basically this blog is a bunch of monkey pictures from our day trip up to Nagano to see these little guys.
To get up to Jigokudani Monkey Park, we got to take the shinkansen (bullet train with maximum speeds of 150-200 mph) from Tokyo up to Nagano (about 2 hours). Once at Nagano station, we took a 55 minute bus ride up to the park area.
From the bus station, we then had to walk about 1.5-2 km up the hill to the first entrance to the park. From there it's an additional 1.6 km on a snowy path through the woods #worthit #exercise #beercalories
The snow monkey park is located in the Valley of the Yokoyu River. This valley is refered to as Jigokudani (Hell valley) because of it's very steep cliffs and steam coming off the hot springs. Around 200 or so Japanese Macaque monkeys live in this harsh area. The hot spring water provides a natural onsen for the monkeys to warm up from the snow in.
Having seen so many photos of these adorable monkeys, I was super excited to see them in real life. As soon as we walked into the park, we saw some monkeys chilling in the snow #score #iwanttopet #cantstoptakingpictures
Actually walking up and seeing the monkeys sitting in the hot springs was crazy. I had to pinch myself. It was like National Geographic in real life. Even though I was freezing, I wanted to stay here all day and watch them.
Naturally, I brought my monkey onsie to try and blend in with the monkeys - hoping they would take me in as one of their own. Unfortunately, my plan didn't work and they mostly ignored me, BUT the onsie added a nice extra layer to keep me warm in the snow #lovemyonsie #bummedmyplandidntwork
And now just a bunch of pictures of snow monkeys - because they're so freakin cute
The monkeys in this area are fed around 3x a day by the staff but they are still wild animals - since there are no fences, the monkeys can come and go freely. Lucky for us, we got to see one of the feedings and a bunch of monkeys picking through snow to find the food. #somanymonkeys #hungrymonkeys
Around 4pm, the park was closing, so we had to make our way back down to the bus station in order to make our train. My feet were frozen but I could have stayed for a few more hours hanging out with these cute little guys. On the way out we spotted a few more monkeys!
After our train back to Tokyo, we were pretty tired. We were craving some gyoza and found a little izakaya near our hostel that had yummy gyoza. Paige also got to try some Hoppy (ホッピー), a beer flavored non-alcoholic drink poured over shochu and ice.
On the way back into town, we realized our 8am flight was too early for the public trains to get to the airport by 7am. Desperately trying to find a way to get to the airport by 6:30, I asked Kazu if he wouldn't mind giving us a ride. Kazu was a lifesaver, and ended up getting up at 3:30am to pick Paige and I up at 4am and get us to the airport in time for our flight. I don't know what we would have done without his kindness and generosity - Paige and I were both so grateful for the time he spent driving us around Tokyo and hanging out #lovethatguy!
Follow in our Footsteps:
Jigokudani Monkey Park
〒381-0401 Nagano Prefecture, Shimotakai District, Yamanouchi, Hirao, ６８４５
Hours: 8:30am - 5pm (April to October), 9am - 4pm (November to March)
Fees: 800 yen
Website, also another useful website here
Bus schedule from Nagano station below:
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!