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Snow Monkeys & Their Hot Spring: Why They Love It

Snow Monkeys & Their Hot Spring: Why They Love It

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The monkeys of the Jigokudani Monkey Park are famous for one big reason – they are the only troop of monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs. Why they do this is interesting and worth understanding before visiting the park for yourself! In general, much like cats, monkeys don’t like the water and will generally try to avoid getting wet. So why then do these monkeys not only enter water, but enjoy soaking for such long periods of time? It’s another case of monkey see, monkey do!

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The unique behavior of soaking in the hot spring is one that was learned through watching humans to the same. The history of the Snow Monkey Park is itself interesting. Established in 1964, the development of the park preceded the monkeys developing a fondness for hot springs.

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While the park was created for conservation purposes and for protection of the monkeys, once in the park, the monkeys observed humans enjoying the outdoor ‘onsen’ (natural hot spring) at a nearby guesthouse called Korakukan (pictured below). Located just outside the park entrance, along the forest trail leading to and from Kanbayashi Onsen, Korakukan still operates today.

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This guesthouse had long been popular with the monkeys’ primate cousins – the humans – for many years due its natural mineral properties. Through watching humans soak in the onsen, the monkeys became curious about our behaviour and soon enough, they were jumping in for themselves!

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It wasn’t long until the first photo was taken of this unique spectacle, bringing the snow-bathing monkeys to the attention of the Japanese public and soon, the world! The rest as they say, is history.

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The park is now exceptionally popular with visitors from all over the world. Most popular in winter – when the monkeys spend the most time in the hots spring – they do in fact come to the park all year round. Recent research has indicated that the monkeys don’t merely bathe for pleasure, with pregnant females – or those attempting to get pregnant – spending the longest time in the onsen in winter as a form of stress relief.

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MONKEYS?


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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.

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.

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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 at snowmonkeyresorts@machinovate.com and let’s get planning together!

NEED ASSISTANCE WHILE AT THE PARK?


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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.

SNOW MONKEY RESORTS ONLINE SHOP


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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!

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