The only place in the world where monkeys bathe in hot springs.
Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Hell Valley Monkey Park) is a well reserved national park located in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture. Many tourists might not know the full name of this park, but they do know what it has to offer in the winter months – the famous snow monkeys.
The journey to see monkeys bathing in the onsen (hot spring) from Nagoya is rather long, but it’s worthy. Not so much on seeing them in the onsen as there are hundreds of people with huge cameras creating an unpleasant moment. It’s the journey to get there tomake it worthwhile. From snow-capped villages seen from the train rides to icy walking path in the white woods, the scenery along the way is breathtaking.
My journey: Nagoya to Nagano (2hr45min JR train) -> Nagano to Yudanaka (38min local train) -> Yudanaka to Kanbayashi Onsen (10min bus) -> Kanbayashi Onsen to Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (30 mins walk).
My stay in Yudanaka: Zen Hostel. Less than 10 minutes walk from Yudanaka station (for trains and buses), the charming hostel is clean and cozy managed by friendly hosts. Plenty of shared areas for self prepared food and drinks, or to hang out. Breakfast can be ordered the night before from a list.
My research: on information and directions, visit http://en.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp.