Saturday, February 20, 2010

Snow Monkeys!


In no way can I do justice writing about the snow monkey adventure we had last weekend. It really defies words, but with photos and descriptions, I'll try...

I mentioned before this trip was a planes, trains, and automobile adventure.

Here's how it went: We flew from Okinawa to Toyko, embarked on a super fast bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano, spent the night there and enjoyed the luminary festival, and then woke the next morning to catch a bus into the mountains.

From the bus stop, we then WALKED another 2 km into the Jigokudani Monkey Park. We had beautiful sunny weather that morning, and the hike through the snowy narrow mountain path was magical.
Once we entered the park, monkeys were everywhere.

Planning the trip, I had envisioned seeing five or six monkeys scamper by quickly. I thought we'd have to scramble to take photos and video before they ran off into the woods. But we encountered probably 100 monkeys leisurely roving about the site. According to locals, about 200 macaques live in this park.

The main attraction were the monkeys that sit in the hot springs to warm themselves.
Are you wondering if the monkeys get cold afterwards? The answer is no. We learned that macaques, unlike humans, do not have sweat glands that cool them off.
There were also plenty of chances to see monkeys frolicking in the snow.
Sun salutation...
The baby monkeys were about the cutest things ever, little puffy fur balls that hopped around. This baby kept trying to climb the cable and kept sliding down unsuccessfully. Everybody who witnessed the cuteness couldn't help but ooh and ah over this one.
Mama and baby warming up in the sun
More to come about the monkey adventure including our up close and personal overnight stay with the monkeys at a ryokan (traditional inn) and our strange dinner there.

23 comments:

shopgirl said...

These photos are incredible!

I can't believe the number of monkeys in that park. I guess it's like visiting a kangaroo park. They're everywhere.

Awesome photos!

p.s. were you scared at all? Seeing all those monkeys kind of reminds me of a Sci-fi movie.

Carrie Stuart said...

Oh, this is incredible! I am so excited to hear the rest of the story. Now this is on my MUST do list!!

Civilla said...

Quite awesome. I'll have to send your link to my son who is in the A.F. He hopes to be stationed over there!

Mary and Sean said...

Shopgirl,
I was a little scared to get too close, and every time a person brushed me, I thought it was a monkey latching on!

Mary and Sean said...

Carrie,
Do it! Do it! I'll pass along the travel info

Mary and Sean said...

Civilla,
Great! Will your son be in OKinawa or mainland Japan?

Eve said...

Wow amazing trip! The monkeys don't even look real. How incredible!! I love the little babies! I SO hope we can do this while we're in Japan!

Fly Girl said...

What an awesome adventure! Thos monkies look like they have wizened, human faces. Did you pet any?

Anil said...

The monkeys look pretty relaxed, not hyper like other monkeys I've come across. Super cute, I kinda want one now...

A.C. said...

I LOVED "Hell Valley" Monkey Park and even got chased by full grown male monkeys there :P but that did not take away from the experience. Near the Train station in Nagano you'll find the BEST gyoza I've ever had :)

Mary and Sean said...

Fly girl,
I was tempted to touch, but no, there were explicit rules not to. Apparently, the monkeys don't care about humans one way or the other, and the park rangers are desperately trying to keep it that way

Mary and Sean said...

AC,
It was amazing, wasn't it! What did you do that made them chase you? How many?

Those guys are fast!

Mary Grovine said...

Mary and Sean, I have changed from my pen name of Civilla to my real name of Mary Grovine (Gro-VEEN is my middle name). Our son is still in tech school, and won't have orders for quite a while, and we don't know exactly where he will go.

Ekua said...

So cool that you get to have these experiences! I love the way these monkeys look and how human like they seem!

Travelin'Fool said...

these guys are way too cute!!

Vanesa said...

These pictures are awesome! and the place looks really beautiful.

mina said...

Those are the funniest looking monkeys I have ever seen!

A.C. said...

Hi Mary, Sorry for the late reply: we got chased by three monkeys. We were headed back to our ryokan in Yudanaka when we stopped at a lovely little temples and things went down hill from there :S I'm inspired now, and I think that I will post about it in the next few days with the fool story!! After your post my sister and I have been reminiscing about that exciting adventure very fondly :)

About NOXP said...

Wow...way too adorable! Up there with baby sloths. I've always wanted to go here, and you just cemented that I WILL be going - hopefully sooner than later.

Carol @trekdigest said...

These are incredible pictures. Thanks for posting.

Megan said...

Hi Mary- We're stationed here on Oki and We've been trying to plan a trip up to Nagano/Shiga Kogen. We are having a hard time getting the details. Any advice? Looks like you had a great trip (as with all of your other adventures! I'm a bit jealous!)

Mary and Sean said...

Megan,
It's super easy. Fly into Tokyo and then take a bullet train north. It's about 1.5 hours to Nagano, and then from the train station, you can take a bus to Shigakogen (maybe another hour or so). If you want to stop off and visit the monkeys, you can do that on the way as well. The system of buses, trains, etc is super efficient and there is a great tourist info desk at the Nagano train station. You can stay at any number of inns in Nagano or at the monkey park, but we stayed at the Jigokudani Korakukan, which was a traditional inn inside the park. We went in Feb, and the weather was gorgeous- snow everywhere but clear blue skies. Have fun! Let me know if you have specific questions...

MaggieOz said...

Thanks for posting about the snow monkeys, I will definitely go there in Feb 2011. I am also going up to Sapporo for the Winter Festival. I am travelling alone and in my 70s but an avid amatuer photographer and very excited about it after seeing your great pics.

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin