Tours from Hakuba - Snow Monkeys
10th September, 2013
A great sideline to skiing, especially when you need a day to recoup, is visiting the snow monkeys. In northern Nagano Prefecture around two hours from Hakuba is the municipality Yamanouchi. The area's most famous for the Jigokudani Monkey Park which was established in 1964 and draws many visitors because of its unique wild monkeys, who bathe in the park's natural hot springs. The monkeys although wild are quite used to humans and carry on with their day to day routine regardless of the visitors who walk the path close by to their natural habitat.
The monkeys are Japanese Macaques, short-tailed & red-faced. Their life expectancy is about 30 years, and a band can comprise of about 250 members in a very structured and hierarchical social system.
You can generally see the differences between boys and girls from over one year of age. Boys play with boys and like physical games such as chasing, wrestling and climbing or jumping off trees. On the other hand girls play with girls and are interested in their siblings and babies bared by other females. They are motherly to babies and like grooming and holding them.
Unlike in zoos there are no fences separating the monkeys and you must obey the rules for both your own safety and the safety of the monkeys. Do not show or give them any food. Monkeys are not pet animals so do not touch or yell to/at them. Please keep a certain distance from them and do not stare into a monkeys eyes. Some curious baby monkeys can come close to you, in that case step away from them as soon as possible. Photo taking (including flash photo) and video recording is allowed but do not get too close when you take a photo with the monkeys as this could frighten them.
Tours generally leave Hakuba at around 8am returning by 5pm and include lunch.
The cost is Y10,000 for adults and Y8,000 for children.