I had a big day of travel as I made my way from Aomori to Nagano. I had booked a few nights in a Ryokan in Yamanouchi so that I could go see the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Yaen-koen. After arriving and checking in I went for a little walk to the kombini to grab something to eat. I was pretty tired after train rides I just wanted something simple and to go head back to my lovely space.

The next morning the ryokan staff ran a shuttle to the car park of the Snow Monkey park, which was super lovely of them. It’s about a 20 minute walk or so to the Snow Monkey entrance from the car park, and it was so snowy! I was loving it. The scenery around was magical and it was such a nice way to start the day.

As soon as I entered the Jigokudani Yaen-koen I instantly came across a monkey just chilling in the middle of the path. It seems that some of them are quite happy to be instagram models.

It was so cool to come visit the monkeys here as I had heard about my parents visit to them when they first came to Japan. It was nice to get to see them in winter and have my own monkey experience. They are wild monkeys and it’s pretty cool to get to come into this space and witness these creatures living their lives. The park has been opened since the 60’s and the monkeys are pretty used to people being around. They run amongst you, next to your legs, etc. You just watch and let them do their thing without interfering with them beyond being pervy really.

As people we are such voyeurs with our interest in watching others behaviour. It was kind of weird when I was telling some mates that I was just going to go watch some monkeys in an onsen. I’m glad I did though, seeing different personalities at play and how they interact was fascinating. This was the first time I had ever experienced monkeys like this in the wild.

I spent about 1.5 hours here watching them and taking photos. The problem with using my phone to take pictures in winter is the fact that I can’t wear gloves. My hands were freezing! When the pain of how cold they were started to really distract me from the experience I made my way into the gift shop area to thaw out. I considered heading back out to watch the monkey’s more but by the time I regained some feeling I decided it was probably a good time to make my way back down to get the bus back to my ryokan.

I didn’t make the most of my ryokan experience as I didn’t try hard enough to find one with either a private onsen or one that allowed tattoos. I enjoyed the ryokan, I just didn’t use the onsen. Which would of been a great way to warm up after this visit. When I next return to Japan, I am going to go out of my way to organise some stays with tattoo friendly onsens.

By the way, there is a live stream of the monkeys that can you watch here.

@gnattus Come visit the Japanese Macaques with me at Snow Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen), Yamanochi #snowmonkeys #japantravel #solotravel ♬ Lofi Anime Music – Lo-fi Beats for Sleep & HIP-HOP LOFI & Lofi DreamHop