WHEN DOES IT START TO SNOW IN THE JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK?
The monkeys of the Jigokudani Monkey Park are here all throughout the year however given that they are most commonly referred to as “snow monkeys”, many visitors understandably want to see them in the depths of winter and regularly ask – when does it start snowing in the park?
Snowfall will vary from year-to-year so it’s impossible to definitely state when the snow will come, at least very far in advance. However, as a rule, the year’s first snowfall at the park usually occurs in mid to late-November. The first snowfall can sometimes be substantial however daytime temperatures remain pleasantly warm through November, melting it quickly. This might occur a couple of times until around mid-December, from which time snowfall becomes more regular but again, not enough to stay on the ground for long.
Sometime in the week of December, heavier snowfall is usually accompanied by lower temperatures. Snow will remain on the ground and from that point onward winter has begun and the landscape will remain white for several months. The monkey park and surrounding region are usually blessed with a white Christmas, making it a magical experience for many visitors who have never experienced one!
Snow should fall consistently through January and February. The middle of that period can bring extremely heavy snowfall with large amounts on the ground and in the park. Heading toward the end of February and into March, the snow should continue but gradually becomes more intermittent. By the end of March, regular snowfall is likely to have finished at the park but snow will remain on the ground, eventually melting to patches here and there in April.
The trail leading through the forest to the monkey park, and the park itself, will be affected by snow and ice through. While this makes the walk even more beautiful, it can also be treacherous, particularly for visitors who are not accustomed to walking in such conditions. Snow often accumulates by the side of the trail, concealing the edge, which can at times drop away sharply. Don’t let this stop you from visiting but please ensure that you wear good quality shoes or boots and take your time walking to and from the park. Always pay attention to your footsteps and trail conditions.
Visit the Snow Monkey Resorts Info & Gift Shop
Open everyday through winter from 9AM to 5PM, the Snow Monkey Resorts Info & Gift Shop provides are range of services to ensure you have an enjoyable and easy visit to the monkey park.
One of the most popular destinations in Nagano, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is located at the end of a 1.6km / 1 mile forest trail, accessed in the small hot spring village of Kanbayashi Onsen. Standing right next to the trail entrance, the Snow Monkey Resorts Info & Gift Shop is virtually impossible to miss!
English-speaking staff are on-hand to assist with your visit including general information about the monkey park, transport options from the park, and nearby restaurants including Enza Café and Hotaru-tei.
To access the park, you must first walk along a picturesque 1.6km / 1 mile forest trail. This path is well-maintained and mostly level with a staircase at the end leading into the park itself*. The walk typically takes 20 to 25 minutes however in winter, when the trail becomes affected by snow and ice, the walk is more likely to take 30 to 40 minutes. It can also be extremely cold with temperatures regularly below 0°C and possibly dropping below -10°C.
During the winter months the path can become very slippery and it is easy to fall so please proceed with caution at all times.
Dressing appropriately for these conditions including good quality shoes or boots is essential during winter. For visitors who don’t have appropriate winter clothing or footwear, the SMR Info & Gift Shop provides a range of rental services including snow boots (JPY800) and winter jackets (JPY500). Rental boots and jackets are subject to availability on the individual day and cannot be booked in advance.
Cramp-ons (metal spikes that attach to the sole of your shoe or boot) are available for purchase (JPY1350) along with winter clothing including hats and gloves. For visitors carrying luggage that would be cumbersome to take along the trial and into the park, the Info & Gift Shop will happily look after it for you with their left baggage service (JPY500 per item).
Want to learn more about the monkeys?
Why not book at tour! Operating all year round we are Nagano’s No.1 rated tour and charter operator!
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.
Got a question about visiting the monkeys? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!