Even though the name of this park might not sound very familiar you’ve probably heard about the Snow Monkeys of Japan.
The Jigokudani Yaen-koen (Hell Valley Wild Monkey Park) is located in the Nagano mountains and since it was opened, in 1964, this park has been the attraction of tourists from all over the world, eager to see the famous snow monkeys.
The Japanese Macaques (Macaca Fuscata) are monkeys native to northern Japan and very much used to being around people. Even so, the park’s officials recommend that you shouldn’t try touching them or even looking directly into their eyes, as this is considered, in the monkey society, a sign of enmity.
They are the most north-living species of primate, able to survive temperatures of below -15 °C. Their bodies are covered in a brown-gray coat of fur and they have red skin on their face, hands and bottom. Although they sometimes spend their time in the mountains, they just love bathing and swimming in the hot springs. In the park you can sometimes find about 200 monkeys enjoying the hot water of Japanese onsen in the spring and especially during Japan’s extremely cold winters.
The sight of monkeys in hot water with snow falling on their heads is particularly beautiful.
The Jigokudani park is located in the center of Japan, on the valley of the Yokoyu River, in a harsh environment where snow is present for about four months, reason enough to be named Hell Valley, although the monkeys seem to love this place.