There’s a place near Nagano called Jigokudani Monkey Park, and it gives you exactly what you’re hoping for. So many monkeys.
It’s about an hour bus ride from the city — you can actually get a special pass that includes the bus fare to and from Jigokudani, and admission to the park for 3200 yen (about 36 bucks Canadian). Best 3200 yen I ever spent.
Even just walking from where the bus drops you off to the park itself is surprisingly memorable, with a really scenic trail taking you through a forest of super tall pine trees.
Once you get to the area, you can see the steam coming off the ground from one of the natural hot springs.
Then you get there, and the monkeys are everywhere. I figured there’d only be a dozen or so monkeys, but there’s gotta be at least 40 or 50. It’s amazing.
They’re all just hanging out; walking around, grooming each other, chillin’ in the hot tub.
Here’s a mother cuddling with her kid.
After a while, the kid suddenly angled himself butt-up towards his mom, and without missing a beat, she started grooming him.
And I guess because these monkeys have spent their whole lives surrounded by gawking tourists, we’re just a part of the landscape to them. It’s like we’re not even there.
You can get surprisingly close to them, and they’ll completely ignore you.
And they’re amazing. I mean, look at them. They look like tiny little people wearing fur coats. They’re almost absurdly adorable.
Suffice it to say, if you’re in Japan and you’re anywhere even close to the vicinity of Nagano, you’ve gotta go see the monkeys. It’s amazing.