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See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil! It would appear that this monkey or Japanese Macaque has his lips sealed.

I have finally made the journey to Nagano (after two years) to lay witness to the bathing onsen monkeys. It would have to rank up there as one of the great adventures I found myself in while living in Japan.

The legend as I was told started in 1964 when a female snow monkey (Japanese Macaque) fell into the local onsen in an area called Jigokudani (Hell's Valley) in Nagano. Despite what most animals would have done; ie: jump out after making the pitiful mistake of slipping in, this particular female stayed in and enjoyed the warm waters of the onsen vs the harsh Nagano winter. From there, the rest of the troop followed suit and Jigokudani Yaen-Koen park was formed. Now the park has several troops that gather seperately each day throughout the cold, harsh and snowy winters of Nagano. There's loads of monkey hijinx when one troop comes in and forces the others out ie: stand offs, jockeying for positions, fighting and so forth.

The park is located in Yudanaka Town and is in the Yokoyu River valley, which flows down from Shiga Kogen (famous for drawing skiers/snowboarders from as far away as Tokyo and Osaka on weekends).

The Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) is a monkey species native to northern Japan, and is the most northern-living non-human primate, surviving winter temperatures of below -15 C. They have brown-gray fur, a red face, hands and bottom, and a short tail - and often seem remarkably human like.

In the wild they spend most of their time in forests and feed on seeds, buds, fruit, invertebrates, berries, leaves, and bark. The monkeys have a body length ranging from 80 to 95 cm. The males weigh around 10-14 kg while the females are usually around 5.5 kg.

Should you ever find yourself in Nagano during the winter, pay a visit to the sleepy little town of Yudanaka, it is a must stop to see these little guys enjoying the warm onsen waters like there homo-sapien counterparts

berek, danielswalsh has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Brendon Hicks (Brendon) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 81 W: 9 N: 61] (289)
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