Whether you have a wild fascination with monkeys or just want to experience a whole new adventure, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is worth the visit. Home of the world-famous Snow Monkeys, Jigokudani Monkey Park is located in the forests of the Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi, near the onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka. This is one of the most unique parks you’ll ever visit because it lets you observe monkeys interact in their natural habitat, unconfined and unrestrained. Aside from getting the opportunity to watch the monkeys, there are actually a lot more you can do when you’re in the area.
- See the Monkeys
First stop would be the Monkey House. Watch Japan’s native monkey tribe interact with each other. These monkeys are a rare breed. They are dubbed “Snow Monkeys” because they live in snow-covered grounds for months every year and they are the only non-human primate that can survive in a cold climate. The Monkey Park is the snow monkeys’ paradise; you will see them strolling around or chilling out in the hot springs. Unlike in the Zoo, these monkeys are not confined and they are free to roam anywhere around the park. They are accustomed to humans and will most likely just ignore you but you will be advised not to get too close to them or feed them anything.
- Soak in the Springs
Monkey See, Monkey Do! After watching the monkeys bathe, you might want to give the hot springs a go as well. Shibu Onsen is a five minute bus ride away from the park, the place is a very famous street surrounded by traditional ryokan hotels. You can take a nice relaxing bath in their hot springs to take in the full Japanese culture experience. You will find other tourists strolling around in their yukatas or kimonos doing the same.
- Shop ‘til you Drop
Since you’re done with your Monkey Business, you can explore the best local shops in town. There are various types of shops around the Shibu Onsen street that are totally worth a visit. One of them is a local Origami shop that showcases and sells amazing origamis, you can even get a lesson on how to make them yourself for a small price.
- Savor the Sake and the Sweets
Take a bite of peculiar tastes! Buy Eggs that were half-boiled in the hot springs. Get addicted to the sweet and creamy bread rolls in the bakery and give your taste-buds a treat by sake-tasting in wine and brewery shops.