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!