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.

Yudanaka Map

“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.”

Kate Sanderson, Marketing & Design Assistant

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.

Recommended Accommodation in Yudanaka

The following are our favourites from among the western-style hotels and Japanese-style inns of Yudanaka.

Experiences in Yudanaka

Yudanaka offers a wealth of exciting experiences that will help you get beneath the surface of Japan's fascinating culture. See below for a few of our favourites

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.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
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