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 APLHA 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.
THE NO.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).
HOW TO BECOME THE ALPHA MALE
To understand how one male monkey becomes the alpha of the entire troop, you need to know a little about how the troop functions. Within the troop, the rank of females is often determined by the rank of their mother with female monkeys inheriting the status of their mother. The rank of males on the other hand, changes all the time. Males usually leave their birth troop upon early maturation – usually between five to eight years of age. From that time on, they will enter and leave several troops or even stay by themselves for years. Usually the rule is, the longer a monkey is with a troop, the higher its rank is within that troop. Also, male monkeys who develop a good relationship with the alpha female, will also rise in status and have more chance to become the alpha male. The most typical way to become alpha is by death of the former alpha or if the former alpha leaves the group. The alpha male could also lose his rank because of another monkey being stronger and more suitable for the role. The alpha male is dominant and respected by other monkeys, but he is not the only male monkey with status and there are often multiple mature males with their eyes set on becoming alpha. For some, they will see it as a waiting game and bide their time while others might try to force the issue and challenge the alpha. So while Toami is alpha now, he always needs to keep on-top of what is happening around him and always needs to watch his back… as the saying goes, ‘the crown lies heavy’.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MONKEYS?
Based in Nagano and operating all-year-round, we offer a number of group tours that include a visit to the monkey park. All tours are led by locally-based guides and combine a visit to the park with another great destination, activity or event including lunch or dinner. Our tours are fun, interactive and family-friendly. For a more information and a listing of all tours on offer, click on the banner or button below.
1 Day Tour
|1-Day Tour: Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano|
|Period||All Year Round|
|Time||09:35 – 17:35|
|Meeting Place||Nagano Station |
Hakuba (winter only)
Of course, we also offer private tours and transport to the monkeys and any regional destination. 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 schedule. All vehicles 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 your adventure in Central Japan and help you discover even more!
Got a question about visiting the monkeys? Click the ‘INQUIRY’ button below or contact us and let’s get planning together!
NEED ASSISTANCE WHILE AT THE PARK?
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.
SNOW MONKEY RESORTS ONLINE SHOP
Can’t make it to us? Let us come to you! Our Snow Monkey Resorts Online Shop has you covered for all your monkey needs including official merchandise and travel products. We ship both inside Japan and internationally. All your monkey needs are now just one click away!