Part of the major attraction to Yudanaka is the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. Getting there is interesting as it’s on the outskirts of town and a taxi will get you as far as here…

… or about 10 to 15 minutes walk from the above, depending on your ability to ascend ice. Fair warning: going to Yudanaka just after the New Year is likely to welcome you with surfaces more ice than man. A decent pair of snow boots isn’t essential but would be very useful…

That’s stage 1 of the journey done with. Stage 2 is, not as some literature might have you believe, a quick stroll but instead a trek up a small mountain. In fairness, you might manage it in ten minutes when you are not scaling Yet More Ice, but otherwise and as in our case, allow yourself some time to take it easy.

Well, you could try pelting it, but it quickly becomes an awful long way down.

That said, the odds are you won’t need to get very far up the mountain before you get results. Only a few minutes into the trek we did espy…

Obviously though, you’re not going to settle for a monkey here or there… We want more! Continuing ever upward will bring you to a waystation of sorts: an onsen set in the mountain near the very source of all the water.

More important than this however, is the ability to restock on coffee.

Some might argue that the Japanese urge to place a vending machine everywhere is crass. When it’s that blooming cold and you would like a cuppa, you’ll know these people for fools!

IMPORTANT NOTE: As I spent my time in and out of natural resources over my stay here, I decided to eschew the fancy chemical gloops that would otherwise make me as stylish and fashionable as I have deluded myself into believing I normally am.

Irrespective, breaks had, it is time to head ever onwards!

Up, up, and up some more. FUN FACT! The serow is an apparently elusive beast which is based in this and few other areas. I say ‘apparent’ as we didn’t know this and so didn’t get a few snaps of the goat when we saw one hanging out with the snow monkeys. Speaking of whom…


Part of what makes the area so important is that is proves animals have cultural acquisition. The macaques of the region began using the bathing pools the locals constructed for not just for the purpose of cleaning but also relaxation. They in turn brought their offspring here and got them used to the gangsta’ lifestyle, building up a cycle of middle-class monkeys used to the good life.

So of course I had to leave the pictures I took of the monkeys actually bathing on my other hard drive. Sigh. Rest assured I will amend this post in a few days to add in the pictures in question. Irrespective, if you find yourself in the area, the park is a must-see. Only don’t run down any of the hills and then take a corner at full speed in an effort to score for your good lady (or good sir) a heated beverage when taking the return journey: you may, like me, nearly break your arm when you slip and fall (only without the wonderful cushion of snow to reduce the impact to Just Bloody Sore).

Man, this was a great way to spend what was my last day as a twenty something.

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