Snow Monkeys, Japan

Jigokudani Monkey Park is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. About 4 hours drive by bus from Narita aiorport. It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning "Hell's Valley", is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests. The area of the park has heavy snowfalls every winter, and is only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest. This keeps the park uncrowded despite being relatively well-known. It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter. The monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.

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