Snow Monkeys: Monkey Love, Babies & Childcare

Snow Monkeys: Monkey Love, Babies & Childcare


Affectionately known as ‘snow monkeys’, Nagano’s most famous furry residents are in fact Japanese macaques. Called ‘nihonzaru’ in Japanese, macaques are highly intelligent and social primates which form strong bonds through their lives. Females in particular are very family-oriented, spending a significant amount of time with their mothers, sisters, and aunties.

GROOMING / all year round

Snow monkeys in summer

Social bonds are established and strengthened (in part) through the endless grooming that the monkeys engage in. When you visit the park you will quickly notice that grooming is a time-consuming part of each monkeys’ day, something which you need to engage in if you want to succeed.

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Family members will groom each other and come mating season, males and females who interested in each other will do the same – an important step in selecting a mate.



Reaching sexual maturity from 5 to 6 years of age (males) and 4 to 5 years of age (female), the macaque mating season comes around every autumn – from October to November and into December – just before the first snow of winter falls in the park. During mate season, males will stand straighter than usual and flex their monkey muscles, intentionally pumping them up to seem more masculine and tough.

Snow monkeys mounting

Females signal to the males they are interested, inviting them to mount. Through mating season, the monkeys will mate with multiple partners, with males higher in the hierarchy being more popular and desirable for potential female mates. Just like us humans, some males aren’t in demand and go ignored, or even actively avoided, by females.

PREGNANCY / winter

snow monkeys in bath snow

Females are pregnant through the cold and snow of winter. Recent research suggests that the females wanting to become pregnant and those which already, spend the longest time in the hot spring as a form of stress release which aids pregnancy. Pregnancy lasts an average of 173 days with females giving birth to one baby every other year.

BABIES / spring


Spring heralds the arrival of the years baby monkeys. Typically born between lat-April to late-June, the newborns are tiny – measuring a mere 15 to 20cms – and cling to their mothers, who are understandably very protective of their new bubs.

Mother and baby monkey

Suckling milk quickly strengthens the babies and before long – literally within 3 to 4 weeks – the little ones are taking their first clumsy steps around the park. These first steps are understandably awkward, with the babies regularly stumbling over rocks and falling-out of small shrubs as they attempt to climb.  Within 2 to 3 months the little ones are fully mobile and are drawn to each other, forming adorable baby gangs.

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While they will still suckle from their mothers it is at this time that the babies will start to become interest in food and begin foraging for themselves – at first mimicking the older monkeys, regularly gnawing on less than edible items.

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After the fourth month the baby snow monkeys will be growing bigger and bigger and become too heavy to cling to their mothers underside. At this point the little ones start to ride on their mother’s back, staying affectionately close to their mums for a long time to come. If you want to see each year’s babies at their most adorable, spring and summer – from late April until September – are the best times to visit the Snow Monkey Park as the bubs are born, emerge in the park, and quickly gain their confidence to tackle their new world with clumsy enthusiasm and endless curiosity.


We think the monkeys are endlessly fascinating. From their curious and unique behaviour, to their diet and favourite food or the complexity of their social life, the monkeys of Jigokudani really are worth seeing.



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.


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? 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.



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!

Snow Monkey Park