Travel | Jigokudani Yaen-Koen

Nihonzaru (ニホンザル) meaning snow monkey

Image of undefined
  • 2 min read

Over to Japan’s Jigokudani Yaen-Koen national park, the only place in the world where monkeys bathe in their own private hot springs.

Come winter, when the temperature drops to -10 degrees, the open air rotenburo (those are hot open-air baths) provide a delightful respite from the snowy terrain. It’s a bit like the monkey version of a Four Seasons resort.

The park, high in the mountains, is buried in snow for almost one third of the year. The hot springs are heated naturally through the volcanic rock.

It’s the ultimate reality show. The monkeys are accustomed to human spectators (those exhibitionists!) and you can view them up close.

From home on your sofa you can watch the ‘monkey livecam’ (not always so live, and remember that time difference) here.

If you’re planning a visit, where to stay locally?

Do as the monkeys do, and bed down in the local hot spring resort of Shiba Onsen. Get onsen-hopping: you’ll get a key to numerous onsens (hot indoor baths) in this attractive town. You're invited to wear your geta slippers down the historic main street, and may even bump into the occasional monkey venturing down from the mountains in search of food. Generous hotel owners leave them eggs, boiling away in pools of naturally heated spring water. Those furry rogues have also been known to 'frequent' the local convenience store...

Alternatively you could relax at Senjukaku, a ryokan (that’s a traditional Japanese inn) on the doorstep of the monkey park.

Expect Japanese room slippers, soft lighting and a band covering Beatles classics in reception of an evening. Plus indoor and outdoor hot spring baths to warm up, just like the monkeys.


Related Products