Archive for April 12th, 2010

Snow Monkeys

Monday, April 12th, 2010

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.

Alpha Male Japanese Macaque

Alpha Male Japanese Macaque

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.

Monkey in Onsen

Monkey in Onsen

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.

Marty Tries to become Alpha Male

Marty tries to become Alpha Male