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World's Coolest Hot Springs

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Steve Bloom Images/Alamy

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi, Japan

The Soak: The old adage “monkey see, monkey do” is apropos, as this mountain region’s Japanese macaques (a.k.a. snow monkeys) have taken such a liking to the steamy onsens (Japanese for “hot springs”) that they’ve claimed the best for themselves. All we hapless humans can do is watch—and then head to Yamanouchi town, where a dozen-plus traditional (no swimsuits) communal onsens await.

The Scene: Jigokudani means “Hell’s Valley,” and it is a trek to get to these secluded pools located at 2,790 feet and a mile-plus by foot through formidable forest. But persevering monkey fans will be rewarded.

When to Go: Winter, when the simian-filled springs are steamiest and skiers can hit the slopes at nearby 1998 Nagano Olympics site Shiga Kogen.

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