Jigokudani Monkey Park
Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑 Jigokudani Yaen Kōen) is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan at Coordinates: . It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning "Hell's Valley", is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.
The heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 metres, and being only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest, keep it uncrowded despite being relatively well-known.
It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months. Starting in 1963, the monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.
Jigokudani is not the farthest north that monkeys live. The Shimokita Peninsula is at the northern part of the Honshū island and the northwest area of this peninsula, latitude +41°31' longitude +140°56', approximately 500 km or 310 miles north from Jigokudani is the northern limit of Japanese Macaque habitat. No (non-human) primate is known to live in a colder climate.
Macaque in outdoor bath at Jigokudani Monkey Park
Japanese Macaca fuscata in the river at the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
(video) A few monkeys bathe in the hotsprings.]
- Explore the Heart of Japan - Snow Monkeys
- Masahiro Minami. "Profile of Japanese macaques". Simon Fraser University. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
- Masui, K. (1988). Nihonzaru no fudo, Climatology of Japanese Macaque, Tokyo.
- Yuzankaku; Nakagawa, N., Iwamoto, T., Yokota, N., & Soumah, A.G. (1996). Inter-regional and inter-seasonal variations of food quality in Japanese macaques: constraints of digestive volume and feeding time. Cambridge University Press. pp. 207–234. ISBN 9780521021715. "In J.E. FA., & D.G. Lindburg (Eds.), Evolution and ecology of macaque societies"
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