Amazing Planet

Take a Hot Springs Spa Day (With Snow Monkeys!) at Jigokudani Park

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You find yourself exploring Yamanouchi, Japan and board a bus to visit the hot springs of Jigokudani Monkey Park. Naturally, you imagine yourself taking a dip in the springs while snow monkeys frolic nearby—not the case. Humans won't be the only primates enjoying those steamy temps...tourists can expect to cozy up to troops of spa-loving Japanese macaques.

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Why we're covering this:

  • Jigokudani translates to "Hell Valley," so this place is both fascinating and eerie.
  • Spa-loving monkeys. Need we say more?

Primping Primates

Jigokudani translates to "Hell Valley," which makes sense when you consider the remote region's snowy frigid climate, jagged cliffs, and natural hot springs (or onsens), bubbling up with steam. But, according to Atlas Obscura, the park is best known for its Japanese macaques (snow monkey) population, which are the "most northern living non-human primates." They're also fond of bathing in hot springs.

Related: This Critically Acclaimed Artist Was Secretly A Chimp

The springs reach temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit—perfect spa conditions for monkeys and tourists alike. In the 1960s, the Japanese macaques moved from the forests above down to the Jigokudani, inside Japan's Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (known locally as Shigakogen). The result: a pretty unique, and perhaps spiritual, experience for visitors.

See It To Believe It

Related: Koko The Gorilla, The Ape Who Speaks Sign Language

If you can't visit the park in the winter, don't worry. Park attendants feed the snow monkeys, so they hang out all year round. And if you won't be trekking to Japan any time soon (but you're dying to witness spa-loving monkeys), the park offers a live camera on their website. The new puppy cam, anyone?

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