With the temperature steadily dropping and the clouds puffing-up and rolling-in, the question many people ask is when will it start snowing in the monkey park?
Affectionately known as “snow monkeys”, the macaques that inhabit the park are perfectly comfortable in the snow and cold of winter. They are the most northern-living (non-human) primates in the world and their unique ability to not just live but thrive in a snow-covered landscape is one of the reasons they are so popular with both Japanese and international visitors.
Understandably, many people want to see Nagano’s famous snow monkeys in it’s equally famous deep snow, and as winter approaches each year we inevitably ask – when will it start snowing?
This of course cannot be answered with certainty. This autumn (2018) has been unusually warm and we are yet to experience any snow in the monkey park. Each season is different with the first flurry of snow varying greatly in its timing from year-to-year. It can be said however that the first snow in the monkey park typically occurs in mid to late-November. On occasion, this initial dump of snow can be quite sudden and big however the relatively warm daytime temperatures through November mean that early snow does not last long and typically melts within 24 hours.
Heading in to late-November and the first week of December, the park is likely to experience its first snow of the season, blesses the visitors on those days with a crisp walk into the park along the snow-brushed forest trail. By this time of year, visitors should ensure that they are prepared for their visit to the park and wear good quality boots and warm clothing including winter jacket, gloves, and beanie.
From mid-December onward, you can expect the first really heavy snow of the year and from that point onward, the snow will remain on the ground through the winter, steadily piling up through January and February. Witnessing the monkeys going about their lives in the heavy snow of mid-winter is a unique and fantastic experience, and for that reasons draws many visitors to the park each day.
In the midst of winter and snow the monkeys are at their iconic best, piling into the ‘onsen’ (hot spring) en masse to stay warm and survive the harshest weather of the year. Of course the younger monkeys remain full of spirit and energy and find the landscape as novel and fun as the rest of the year, and while the older more sensible macaques soak in the bath, the little ones run about crafting snowballs and impromptu games.
So while we still await the first snow of winter 2018/19 in the monkey park, it won’t be long now. If you’re headed this way please ensure that you are well-prepared with appropriate footwear and clothing, and remember, take care of the trail as it will become affected by ice and snow as winter progresses.
Getting to the Snow Monkey Park
The park is readily accessible from JR Nagano Station using either the Nagano Dentetsu (Nagaden) express bus or train (followed by local) bus. With regular services throughout the day, all winter long, the monkey park is approximately 45 to 60 minutes from Nagano, depending on your chosen method of transport.
Snow Monkey Resorts No.1 Rated Tours
Locally-based and operating throughout the year, our group and private tours are the best way to get yourself to and from the park in comfort.
Combining visits to the the monkey park with other popular destinations and lunch, our tours are led by English-speaking guides who will not only take the hassle out of trip so you can concentrate on the monkeys, they’re also the best way to turn your visit into an experience and learn all about what makes these curious creatures so unique!
Snow is coming and we hope that you are too… we have a feeling that this winter is going to be a big one!