Every year during the cold winter, snow monkeys of Jigokudani in Japan are one of the must see and to do things in Nagano Prefecture. I had the chance to visit this wonderful winter wonderland the first year I was in Japan and it has been on my must do again list ever since. We took the 3 hour drive up from Tokyo to Jigokudani Snow monkey park and it was quite easy to find once you start to see the signs. You get to an area on the road where a lot of cars are just parked on the side and there is a little path at the end of the road. This is where we parked our car and headed down the path that led us down into the forest. It just had snowed the days before so the trail was still covered and icy. Once you walk about 25 minutes, you arrive at the entrance of Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. This is where you pay your entrance fee (500 Yen) and you can also retreat from the cold with a hot cup of coffee or hot coco after watching the monkeys for a bit. If you walk a little bit further you start to see the monkeys and the famous hot spring.
Once you get up to the pools, BEWARE of the smell you are about to encounter! Sorry but I have to inform you about this first off because if you are sensitive to smells, this will surly set you off. This place has tons of monkeys running around all over the place while eating some of the food that the park puts out for them while some are in the water enjoying the heat. On this day, The weather was cold, Very cold to us but for the monkeys it was just a normal day. A few of the monkeys were relaxing in the water but I soon found out that they really only hang out in the pool when the weather gets extremely cold.
They have a nice concrete path around the pool so you can walk around and get shots of the monkeys. If Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is kinda busy(25 people or more), you might have to wait to get out on the concrete path. It’s very small and it only has a one pool which all the monkey do hang around at.
One of the hardest part of shooting at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park was dealing with the bitter cold. It was right around 25 degrees fahrenheit and I will tell you right now, I was not dressed for it.
One thing that I will never forget is how the monkeys could look right into your eyes and you could feel their emotions. This female monkey that you see above had a scar on her face and was getting picked on by a few of the other monkeys. She would get ran off by a few different monkeys from the group and also forced out of the pool. I felt sorry for her so I took a few images of her and one of them she looked right at me. Her eyes could tell a story that most of us could all relate. As we got ready to leave and head back down that icy walking path, I saw this shot of a monkey looking back at something. I loved how this guy was just looking back at the rest of the group of monkeys. I can’t help but think what he was thinking about. Either way it was a fun and COLD trip to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.