Jigokudani Monkey Park

By now, given the power of the internet and social media, Japan is frequently hailed as the land of the strange, exuberant, exotic – and in many cases, even the land of the cute and funny, which definitely helps categorize this phenomenon. Animals play a large part of Japanese culture, as seen in the instances of Japan’s fascination with cute things.

Located in the Chubu region, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is exactly what it sounds like – a park whose main attraction consists of monkeys. The monkeys in question are Japanese Macaques, which are more commonly referred to as the Snow Monkeys – and visiting in this park is by far one of the most novel experiences one can treat oneself to when visiting the Land of the Rising Sun. However, what makes the park so interesting isn’t that it is mainly populated by a bunch of monkeys, but that the monkeys are, in fact, enjoying the natural hot springs in the area and quite literally lounge inside the water like one would expect elderly men to do instead. The nearby forests are the monkeys’ natural habitat and in the cold, harsh, winter the intelligent creatures prefer to relax inside the comfortably hot water while we watch in astonishment.

The monkeys normally use the one large pool meant for them – and are thus very used to the presence of humans, leading to very amusing interactions. Aside from that, given how social these creatures are, it can be quite fascinating to observe them up close, which is a favorite among younger visitors to the park. It is to be noted however, that feeding or touching the monkeys is strictly prohibited as disturbing them can lead to violent reactions.

Despite the park being open all year round, it is highly recommended to go in the cold winter, which is the namesake of the Snow Monkeys. The scenery is at its most beautiful and the monkeys really enjoy the warm water, enhancing the experience all that much more to be the most authentic it can be.

Image by gojapango.com