Yesterday we set out to spend the morning at Jigokudani Monkey Park. We had arrived in Saku the night before and had arranged to meet our friends at 10am. I was looking forward to our road trip as we are rarely in a car anymore. The day was damp and overcast, so we didn’t get a very good view of the mountains, but the journey was still enjoyable.
Once we parked the car we had a 30 minute hike through the forest. I would love to see the monkeys when it’s snowing but I don’t know if I really want to go hiking in the middle of winter. Even yesterday, without any ice or snow, it was a difficult walk. The ground was muddy and in parts it was very steep and slippy. But it was worth getting a bit dirty.
The monkeys are Japanese Macaques and they are beautiful. I wasn’t expecting to see quite so many of them or for them to be so unconcerned about us being there. A couple of them even pushed me out of the way when they didn’t like where I was standing.
One of the things the monkeys are famous for is bathing in a hot spring. They do this to keep warm during the snowy months and I wasn’t sure if any would be bathing yesterday. But when we got to the spring there were quite a few monkeys lazing around. Others were grooming each other in the water.
One of the park keepers pointed out the alpha male of the troop. I believe that he said that the monkey was 26 years old. (He was speaking in Japanese so it’s possible that I am mistaken.) He was calmly sitting watching all the humans and as long as we didn’t stare at him it was possible to get quite close.