Snow Monkeys in Japan in the Hot Springs
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Snow Monkeys in Japan in the Hot Springs


Japan's famous macaque snow monkeys of Hell's Valley, Nagano. Soaking in the natural hot springs.

Jigokudani literally means Hell Valley, however it is the closest thing to heaven on earth for a spoiled group of monkeys who live there. Jigokudani Yaen-Koen may be the only place in the world where wild monkeys can be observed bathing in their own natural hot spring.

It’s situated in the Joshinetsu Plateau National park in northeastern Nagano Prefecture. As the home of this lucky group of Japanese Macaques, the park provides a unique opportunity to witness the wild monkeys in their natural habitat. The Japanese Macaque lives the farthest north of any primates excluding human beings. We hiked up the trial in knee-deep snow to see this unique sight. We were completely alone (this was back in the days before the snow monkey's had become somewhat famous). We sat amongst them to make us trust them (we sooooo badly wanted to be the macaque Dian Fossey), and we both froze for hours while they relaxed in thawing hot-springs. So who are the clever ones again?

Best Memories:

Don’t make eye contact, don’t feed them, babies having far too much enthusiasm for checking out our camera equipment, the one who stole Trace’s camera bag and wouldn’t give it back, the peaceful looks as they relaxed in the hot springs. These photos taken way before digital made an appearance. FILM DAYS … so there are loads more photos needing to be scanned from the old slides. One day…

Keywords: adventure., bathing, boiling water, chimps, famous, Hell's Valley, hot spring, Japan (27), Jigokudani, Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, macaque, macaques, monkey, monkeys, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture, natural bath, natural hot spring, onsen (2), relax (2), Shimotakai District, snow moneky, snow monekys, steam, travel (8), unwind, Yamanouchi, Yokoyu-River.

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