While I love and enjoy nature, and make quite a few nature and landscape images, I am not particularly a “nature photographer”. I don’t have a super-long telephoto to take pictures of wildlife, or a macro lens so I can get close to insects or flowers. So I will admit that snow monkeys were not on my top 10 list of things I wanted to see in Japan. But they won me over anyway!
It helped that the mountain scenery was so beautiful, the snow was falling so softly (and sometimes thickly), the trail we followed was so quiet in the early morning. We headed to the Jigokudani Monkey Park at 8:30 am so we could get there before the crowds (of humans, that is), and I’m glad we did!
And the monkeys – oh, they were everywhere! They completely ignored us, the gawking bipeds, and carried on with their own business. Their main activity was bathing in the hot springs pool that was built especially for them, and digging in the snow for seeds, which park staff had scattered for them in the area. And there was some squabbling, some racing around the mountainside, some more personal moments as they groomed each other.
The monkeys – Japanese macaques – may have accepted food supplements from the humans, but they were not at all tame. Lots of signs warned us of the danger of trying to interact with the monkeys. But they didn’t seem to mind when humans were quite close and sometimes they ran right through the midst of a crowd of people. I really enjoyed watching them – and taking lots of photos, as you can see!
We spent a couple of hours enjoying the monkeys, and the beautiful mountain air. Although we were all quite chilled by the time we were ready to leave, we warmed up quickly on the walk back, and even more so with a bowl of delicious udon at Enza’s Café. So I was really glad that the snow monkeys were on our itinerary!
I have an especially large gallery of photos today for you to enjoy. Remember to click on a thumbnail to see it larger. More Japan to come!