Tuesday, April 1, 2008

day 94 - Monkeys in the snow

After an hour's bus trip from Nagano, we walked 2 km in light snow to the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen ('quasi-national park', elev 850m) where snow covers the ground at least four months of the year. It's a harsh environment for a colony of Japanese Macaques - but their consolation is a series of onsens (natural thermal springs) where they can groom and generally luxuriate. 
Sometimes the monkeys stroll into neighbouring 'human' onsens and co-habit with the naked apes. 
We love onsens, but were a bit concerned about getting naked with a group of wild primates who tend to scratch and bite the nearest moving object if they get a bit testy...
So we kept our clothes on and took photos & videos and later enjoyed a nearby onsen in the snow by ourselves.
Seeing these monkeys in the wild is one of the best experiences we've had in Japan to date!


Cecily said...

Wow! What fantastic photos you have taken Rob and Lyn. It must have been an amazing experience being so close to the snow monkeys. Almost 12 months since Peter and I were in Japan. Wish we could go again. I am really enjoying your photo blog.

robwalkerpoet said...

Thanks, Cecily.
Yes, getting the shots was amazing too! We were rugged up with jackets, gloves, thermal underwear, raincoats & ski hats. Plus I had an umbrella over the cameras to keep the snowflakes & sleet off the lens. I'm hoping we got some good video, too, but we've been too busy to look at that yet!