Snow Monkeys

Snow Monkeys

[ Dec.2017 ] We went to see Snow Monkeys in Jigogudani Monkey Park in Nagano prefecture in Japan.

I had thought they were called Onsen (hot spring) Monkeys, but in fact they are famous as Snow Monkeys all over the world.

It was seriously snowing on the day when we went there.

It was really worth buying the snow boots.

Although it was a mild slope, we had to walk up the slope for 1.6 km.

We had to be careful not to slip and fall over, though I fell in the end.

On the other hand, there were people without special boots walking briskly.

I wonder what the difference between them and me…

Finally we arrived at the Park and found more monkeys than I was expecting.

All of them are Japanese macaques.

And most of the humans watching them were foreign tourists.

Apparently when they had the Winter Olympics in Nagano in 1998, there were some competitions held not far from here and because of that, this park became famous worldwide.

“Wildlife Photographs” exhibition held in the Natural History Museum in London every year, some photos of the Snow Monkeys were chosen for some prize some years ago.

By the way, I was expecting monkeys to be in the hot spring, but none of them were.

They stayed out of the water curling up because of the cold, or many of them were sitting along the hot water pipes of the nearby hotels.

I saw one clinging to the pipe.

I asked a staff of the park, “Why aren’t they in the water?” and he said “Maybe because of this heavy snow, the temperature of the water could be low”.

So we could not see Onsen Monkeys, but we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Snow Monkeys.

On their round back, the snow was falling a lot and they were becoming white.

They are Japanese macaques, but they did not look like Japanese people but more like Caucasians.

Their faces reminded me of Victor, the main character in “One Foot in a Grave”, an old comedy in the UK.

Their expression seemed to be saying that they were having a hard time enduring the cold weather and I felt really sorry.

Especially when we saw a few family members were cuddling close together to get warm, they were so cute that I felt like helping them in some ways.

But in the park there is a strict rule that humans must not touch the monkeys.

On the way here, there was a sign with the pictures of the monkeys and humans and asking “Are we really different?”.

Really, I think just because of the tiny difference of DNA, we are here and they are there.

After saying good-bye to the monkeys, we came down the slope and on the way, we passed much more people going up.

You had better visit there early in the morning.

On our way back to Tokyo, at Nagano station we visited the tourist office and asked for some restaurant information.

One of them they recommended was “Nishi no Chaya“, a Soba noodle restaurant, so we went there.

Nagano is famous for Soba.

Not only Soba, we also enjoyed Tempura of Nozawana vegetable and something called Oyaki, which were specialities in Nagano.

It was a quaint restaurant run by a middle aged man who looked rather stubborn which gave this restaurant an interesting atmosphere.