The image of monkeys relaxing in steaming hot springs, surrounded by the banked drifts of heavy snow and thick forest, has attracted many a visitor to Japan. That place is Yudanaka Onsen – and a visit to our laid-back simian friends will be the highlight of any trip.
“Having seen countless pictures of baby monkeys over my first two years at InsideJapan Tours, I couldn't wait to visit them in person on my first ever visit to Japan. I certainly wasn't disappointed! Though there was no snow in September, these monkeys are worth the trip whatever the weather.”
We normally wouldn't recommend visiting a place called Jigokudani (translation: Hell Valley), but we'll make an exception here. The Jigokudani Monkey Reserve, Yudanaka's biggest attraction, is the home of Japan's famous "snow monkeys" - a community of Japanese macaques who have learned to stave off the bitter cold of winter by bathing in the area's natural hot spring waters.
The pool where the monkeys bathe is located about an hour's walk along winding mountain paths snaking through the forest. Be aware that in winter these can be very icy indeed! It is also worth noting that, although the monkeys can be seen all year round, there will only be snow on the ground during wintertime.
Yudanaka itself is a small, sleepy hot spring town with plenty of traditional wooden buildings and a healthy collection of bathhouses (no monkeys allowed!). There's not a huge amount to do in the area - but if you're staying in one of the town's lovely ryokan inns this will be something of a blessing!
Yudanaka makes an excellent extension to a skiing holiday in the popular ski resort of Hakuba, around 2.5 hours' drive from town. Though day trips run frequently from the resort, we recommend spending the night so you can enjoy the experience of staying at a traditional inn. And if you get up early, you'll be able to reach the monkeys before the tour buses arrive! Yudanaka is also an excellent base from which to explore the Shiga Kogen ski resort, which is located just 30 minutes away by road.
Weather in Yudanaka
The Climate Guide for Yudanaka, Japan is perfect for planning your holiday. Monthly weather averages give the best indication of what the weather is usually like for every month of the year including figures for temperature, rainfall and sunshine.
|Max Daytime Temperature (°C)||0||1||5||13||18||20||24||26||21||15||9||3|
|Min Night-time Temperature (°C)||-8||-8||-5||1||6||11||15||17||13||5||-1||-5|
|Hours of Sunshine (Daily)||4||5||6||6||6||5||5||6||4||4||4||4|
|Hours of Daylight (Daily)||10||11||12||13||14||15||14||14||12||11||10||10|
|Heat and Humidity Discomfort||None||None||None||None||None||None||None||Low||None||None||None||None|
|Days with some Rainfall||25||22||21||17||17||20||22||20||20||16||17||22|
|Monthly Rainfall (mm)||54||56||72||93||116||195||197||168||195||103||73||49|
|UV Index (Maximum)||2||3||5||7||9||10||10||10||8||5||3||2|