Snow Monkey Hierarchy: the Top Monkeys
The famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani are in fact Japanese macaques. This is a highly intelligent species of monkey which lives in large troops of over 100 individuals and is what are considered to be ‘matrilineal’ societies, meaning that a specific monkey’s lineage and status is traced through its mother.
An estimated 60 to 70% of the monkey troop is female, with different family lineages grouped together within one overall ‘dominance hierarchy’. Though mostly female, at the top of this hierarchy sits an ‘alpha male’ – the No.1 monkey and boss of the troop.
Every monkey within the troop is named by park rangers with its lineage accounted for, with specific monkeys holding the highest ranks. These are the top monkey power players in the park:
The Alpha Male: TOAMI 00
Born in 2000, Toami placed the old alpha, Tomamu, in 2019. Through the 1990s, many males were born into the troop and Toami is one of the youngest of that generation. He is aggressive toward the other monkeys and asserts his power through constant confrontations. His distinguishing facial feature is his prominent, protruding forehead. He is young, strong, and looks determined to hold on to his position as alpha for years to come.
Number 2: TOKEI 95-05
The second in line to the throne of the Jigokudani kingdom is Tokei 95-05. Born in 2005 he is notably younger than Toami. Tokei is slightly built with somewhat black fur. Despite his slight and younger appearance, Tokei has a countenance permanently set to threatening. Young and confident, Tokei appears ambitious however hasn’t displayed the drive of Toami to establish himself as the alpha (at least, not yet).
Want to learn more about the monkeys?
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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 operate a variety of group tours that combine a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park with other nearby attractions and experiences.
We offer the local knowledge, support, and service that you need to get the most out of your adventure in Japan including private tours and charters to any destination in the region. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations, in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule.
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Need assistance while at the park?
The Snow Monkey Resorts Info & Gift Shop is located at the entrance of the trail leading to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Offering a range of services including winter rentals and English language information, luggage storage, along with monkey merchandise and souvenirs including official Snow Monkey Resorts products, the SMR Info & Gift Shop has you covered when visiting the park.
Open from early October until late May, 9AM to 5PM, English-speaking staff can answer your questions on your way to and from the park including bus timetables and information about nearby attractions.