February marks midwinter in Nagano and this year’s season certainly hasn’t disappointed! The snow has been falling steadily, blessing the monkey park and the ski resorts of Nagano with some fantastic conditions. For the monkeys, that seems surviving another long, cold winter in a world full of snow.
As the most northern-living species of monkeys in the world, ‘nihon-zaru’ (Japanese monkeys) are well-adapted to living in the cold. Thick coats of fur allow them to survive the harsh conditions which when combined with a healthy dose of ingenuity, allows the monkeys to more than survive but indeed, thrive in the snow and cold!
Their intelligence and ability to adapt to their surroundings is best demonstrate by the unique behaviour of bathing in hot springs. As the only troop of any species of monkey in the world observed to have engaged in this behaviour naturally, the monkeys of Jigokduani are indeed unique and curious.
The behaviour of bathing on their ‘onsen’ (hot spring) is most often seen through winter, when families huddle together in the naturally hot thermal water to stay warm. Research has shown that females – many of which are pregnant through winter – spend the most time bathing as it releases a hormone in them that aids with their pregnancy.
While the monkeys come to the park all year round, they are exceptionally reliable in winter given the temptation of the warm onsen and a little food provided by park rangers. Through winter, food – especially the tasty stuff – is scarce and hard to find giving the monkeys a very good reason to visit the park. However it’s also important to note that the monkeys are wild and free to come and go as they please, while the rangers are careful not to feed them too much. In the end, the monkeys still have to fend for themselves.
Current circumstances mean that visitor numbers to the park this year are much lower than usual. Visitors who do make it have lots of room to enjoy the monkeys in winter, with the monkeys also seeming to enjoy a little extra to run around and play.
As we head toward March, days of snow and cold are punctuated by periods of warmth and sunshine. The monkeys savour the sun and warming weather by engaging in their spring behaviour, especially the younger ones who are endlessly adventurous and playful.
But rest assured that winter still has a long way to go and with more go snow on the way, winter 2020-21 is proving to be an excellent one!As Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator, our tours are available every day of the year and we are welcoming in the New Year with discounts across all of our tours!
All tours are led by locally-based, English-speaking guides with precautions taken to ensure the safety and comfort of guests (along with the guide) and as a registered travel agent, we can package your tour and accommodation so you save more and can enjoy the best of Nagano this winter.
This information is provided as part of our ‘Clean Green & Healthy’ campaign, allowing you to plan and book your future travel to Japan with peace of mind. We hope this information inspires you to plan your next trip to Nagano – with so many outdoor destinations and activities, Nagano and Central Japan offer the perfect getaway!
PACKAGE ANY OF OUR TOURS WITH ACCOMMODATION!
When planning and booking your trip to Central Japan, it’s important that you can do so with confidence that your intended destinations will be both enjoyable and safe.
As Nagano’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator, we offer a range of services including group tours, private tours and private charters, and accommodation to help you get the most out of your time in the region.
Any of our group tours can be booked with accommodation in Nagano, or as private tours starting and ending at locations of your choosing. Please note, depending on the group size, group tours can be conducted using public transport however all private tours are conducted using our own vehicles.
We can arrange transport to and from any destination in the region, with a customised itinerary to suit your travel needs. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from any destination. Vehicles used for private tours are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about visiting the monkey park? Feel free to contact us and let’s get planning together!