Japanese hot springs, known as onsen, have long been a popular attraction for both locals and tourists alike. These natural hot springs are scattered throughout the country and offer a unique and relaxing experience for visitors. The popularity of hot springs in Japan can be attributed to several factors, including the country’s volcanic activity, its rich cultural history, and the therapeutic benefits of soaking in the mineral-rich waters.

Hot springs have been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries. The Japanese believe that these natural hot springs have healing properties and can help to rejuvenate both the body and the mind. As a result, hot springs have become a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and wellness. In addition to their therapeutic benefits, hot springs also offer stunning natural scenery and a chance to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature.

A Closer Look at the Monkey Hot Springs in Japan

One of the most unique hot springs in Japan can be found at the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Located in Nagano Prefecture, this park is famous for its resident snow monkeys who enjoy soaking in the hot springs during the winter months. The monkey hot springs have become a major tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world.

The monkey hot springs at Jigokudani Monkey Park are a sight to behold. Surrounded by snow-covered mountains and dense forests, these natural hot springs provide a warm oasis for the resident monkeys. Visitors can observe these playful creatures as they relax and groom themselves in the soothing waters. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience to witness these wild monkeys enjoying the hot springs just like humans.

The History and Cultural Significance of the Monkey Hot Springs

The Jigokudani Monkey Park has a rich historical background that dates back centuries. The park was established in 1964 with the goal of preserving and protecting the natural habitat of the Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys. These monkeys are native to Japan and are known for their ability to adapt to cold climates.

Hot springs have always held a special place in Japanese culture. They are believed to have healing properties and are often associated with relaxation and rejuvenation. In Japan, bathing in hot springs is not just a physical activity, but also a spiritual one. It is seen as a way to cleanse both the body and the soul.

The Jigokudani Monkey Park plays an important role in Japanese culture and tourism. It showcases the unique relationship between humans and animals, as well as the natural beauty of Japan. The park attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to witness the snow monkeys in their natural habitat and experience the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs.

The Best Time to Visit the Monkey Hot Springs in Japan

The Jigokudani Monkey Park experiences seasonal changes throughout the year, each offering a different experience for visitors. The best time to visit the monkey hot springs depends on what you are looking for.

During the winter months, from December to March, the park is covered in snow, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. This is when the snow monkeys are most active and can be seen enjoying the hot springs to keep warm. The contrast between the monkeys and the snowy landscape makes for a truly magical experience.

Spring and autumn are also great times to visit the monkey hot springs. In spring, the park comes alive with cherry blossoms and other blooming flowers, creating a colorful backdrop for the monkeys. In autumn, the changing leaves paint the surrounding mountains in vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow.

The summer months can be quite hot and humid in Japan, so visiting during this time may not be ideal for everyone. However, if you don’t mind the heat, you can still enjoy watching the monkeys play and interact with each other in the park.

The Natural Wonders of the Monkey Hot Springs

The Jigokudani Monkey Park is not only known for its resident snow monkeys, but also for its stunning natural surroundings. The park is located in the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, which is known for its rugged mountains, dense forests, and pristine rivers.

The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The surrounding forests are filled with towering trees, including Japanese cedar and beech trees. These forests provide a habitat for various bird species, including the Japanese green woodpecker and the Japanese bush warbler.

The park’s unique geological features are also worth exploring. The name “Jigokudani,” which translates to “Hell’s Valley,” comes from the steam and boiling water that rises from the ground due to volcanic activity. This creates a dramatic and otherworldly landscape that adds to the park’s allure.

The Unique Experience of Soaking in the Monkey Hot Springs

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Visitors to the Jigokudani Monkey Park have the opportunity to experience the hot springs themselves. However, it is important to follow proper hot spring etiquette to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Before entering the hot springs, visitors are required to remove their shoes and wash their bodies thoroughly. It is customary to bring a small towel or washcloth with you to cover your private areas while in the hot springs. It is also important to be mindful of others and not splash or disturb the water.

The park provides bathing facilities for visitors, including separate areas for men and women. These facilities are basic but clean, with changing rooms and showers available. It is recommended to bring your own toiletries and towels, as they may not be provided.

Soaking in the monkey hot springs is a unique experience that allows visitors to connect with nature and witness the playful behavior of the snow monkeys up close. It is a chance to relax and unwind in the soothing waters while surrounded by the beauty of the park.

The Dos and Don’ts of Visiting the Monkey Hot Springs in Japan

When visiting the Jigokudani Monkey Park, it is important to follow the park’s rules and regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of both visitors and the resident monkeys.

One of the most important rules is to not touch or feed the monkeys. While they may appear friendly, they are still wild animals and should be treated as such. Feeding them can disrupt their natural behavior and may lead to aggression or dependency on humans.

It is also important to keep a safe distance from the monkeys. While they are accustomed to human presence, it is best to observe them from a distance and avoid getting too close. This not only ensures your safety but also respects the monkeys’ natural habitat.

In addition, visitors should not bring any food or drinks into the park. This is to prevent any potential conflicts between humans and monkeys over food. There are designated areas outside the park where visitors can enjoy their meals.

The Surrounding Area: Other Attractions Near the Monkey Hot Springs

The Jigokudani Monkey Park is located in Nagano Prefecture, which offers a variety of other attractions for visitors to explore. Nearby towns and cities, such as Nagano City and Yamanouchi Town, are worth a visit for their historical sites, cultural experiences, and delicious local cuisine.

Nagano City is home to several famous temples and shrines, including Zenkoji Temple, one of Japan’s most important Buddhist temples. The city also hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998 and has a number of ski resorts that attract winter sports enthusiasts.

Yamanouchi Town, where the monkey hot springs are located, is known for its traditional Japanese architecture and hot spring resorts. The town offers a glimpse into rural Japan and is a great place to experience traditional Japanese culture.

In addition to these towns, the surrounding area is also known for its natural beauty. The Joshinetsu Kogen National Park offers hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and opportunities for outdoor activities such as skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

How to Get to the Monkey Hot Springs in Japan

The Jigokudani Monkey Park is easily accessible from major cities in Japan. The nearest train station is Yudanaka Station, which can be reached from Tokyo by taking the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano Station and then transferring to the Nagano Dentetsu Line.

From Yudanaka Station, visitors can take a bus or taxi to the park entrance. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes and operates regularly throughout the day. It is also possible to walk from the station to the park, which takes approximately 30 minutes.

The park is located in a remote area, so it is recommended to check the bus schedule in advance and plan your visit accordingly. It is also advisable to arrive early in the day to avoid crowds and have a better chance of seeing the monkeys.

Final Thoughts: Why the Monkey Hot Springs Should Be on Your Japan Travel Itinerary

The Jigokudani Monkey Park offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience for visitors to Japan. The opportunity to witness wild snow monkeys soaking in hot springs is something that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

In addition to its natural wonders, the park also provides a glimpse into Japanese culture and history. Hot springs have long been an important part of Japanese culture, and visiting the monkey hot springs allows visitors to immerse themselves in this rich tradition.

The popularity of the Jigokudani Monkey Park among tourists is a testament to its unique appeal. It offers a chance to connect with nature, observe wildlife up close, and experience the therapeutic benefits of hot springs.

Whether you are a nature lover, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, the monkey hot springs should definitely be on your Japan travel itinerary. It is a destination that offers something for everyone and will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


What are monkey hot springs in Japan?

Monkey hot springs, also known as Jigokudani Monkey Park, are natural hot springs located in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture in Japan. They are famous for the Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, who come to bathe in the hot springs during the winter months.

When is the best time to visit monkey hot springs in Japan?

The best time to visit monkey hot springs in Japan is during the winter months, from December to March. This is when the snow monkeys come down from the mountains to bathe in the hot springs and can be seen up close by visitors.

How do I get to monkey hot springs in Japan?

Monkey hot springs can be reached by taking a train from Tokyo to Nagano Station, and then taking a bus or taxi to the town of Yudanaka. From there, it is a short walk to the entrance of the park.

What is the entrance fee for monkey hot springs in Japan?

The entrance fee for monkey hot springs in Japan is 800 yen for adults and 400 yen for children.

Are there any rules or guidelines for visiting monkey hot springs in Japan?

Yes, visitors are required to follow certain rules and guidelines when visiting monkey hot springs in Japan. These include not touching or feeding the monkeys, not using flash photography, and not entering the hot springs themselves. Visitors are also advised to dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear, as the park can be slippery and snowy during the winter months.