Monkey See, Monkey Do

After more than a year in Japan the one thing I still can’t bring myself to try is a visit an onsen, the public hot springs that Japanese love. Bathing, stark naked, in a big spa with friends, family and strangers is NOT my cup of tea. Call me crazy but I have a hard enough time dealing with people staring at me while I’m fully clothed. Having said that, seeing monkeys do this is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever witnessed. 


Jigokudani Monkey Park, located in the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park in Nagano, is home to these wild Japanese Macaques. The surroundings of this park are particularly beautiful and makes for a wonderful place to see autumn leaves. When the temperatures start to drop mid October the monkeys take to the hot springs. If they’re not enjoying the onsens the monkeys are simply going about their daily lives in their own natural habitat, something you don’t see in a zoo. Although these snow monkeys are wild and not in enclosures they’re used to being around people. So long as you’re not disturbing them, they won’t be bothered with you getting up close for photos, and believe me – you will want to! I am no animal lover but those baby monkeys melted even my (stone cold?) heart and I left the park wishing I could take one home with me.


2 Responses to “Monkey See, Monkey Do”
  1. Audrey Bourget says:

    I love this place! Definitely a highlight of my last visit to Japan.

  2. angelinahue says:

    I love soaking in onsens, especially if they are outdoors with a view! I’ve yet to see these ‘hot spring monkeys’ but have seen photos and videos of them – they are absolutely adorable :)

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