If you’re visiting Japan, thumbs up for the snow monkeys. Take the train from Nagano to Yudanaka station. Inquire at the information desk outside, and you’ll be politely directed to the bus for Kanbayashi. Once there, walk two kilometers down the trail to Jigokudani Monkey Park. If you’re visiting in winter, wear some boots — the snow-covered trail is quite slippery.

The macaques at Jigokudani Monkey Park are some of the northernmost primates in the world. They are unique among all macaques in using the surrounding hot springs to stay warm throughout the winter.

The monkeys look serene and meditative as they warm their bones amidst the busy tourists and cameras around them. They doze off, their hair kinks as it succumbs to the steam, and the whole scene is a lot like what you and I experience if we dip into a public hot spring or onsen. Except for the youngsters — they fixate on the tripods and trekking poles at the water’s edge. One places a hand on the other’s arm as if to say, “I know you’re curious, George, but please be careful.”

I visited Jigokudani Monkey Park last February while skiing in nearby Myoko Kogen. This week, I questioned the appropriateness of a blog post about monkeys. But here it is, because it’s winter and we can’t stop loving the world. We must keep celebrating the good, the beauty, all there is to see and wonder about here on earth — including the snow monkeys. But with all the recent events among humans, I find myself wondering … are they perhaps a nobler species?



  1. It has been an extremely difficult week but yes we do need a story about snow monkeys. We cannot stop the world from spinning…..this sweet report reminds us that life does, and must, go on…for the children and the children in all of us adults. Thanks!


  2. Beautiful photos. And this is exactly the kind of post that is needed to show beauty and the wonder of nature and the world. This is what we must emphasize, not hate and inhumanity. I think we should try to fill WordPress, Twitter, and all social media with these kinds of posts to drown out all the negativity and ugliness going on.


  3. Beautiful pictures and I agree, you have to try and see the beautiful things of the world and not let yourself down in all the bad thing, and yes, I think it’s quite likely that animals in general are actually a nobler species. They do have their territorial fights, but they’re not going around killing each other for no good reason.


  4. Yeah, I have to agree. Perfect time for a post on monkeys keeping warm in the snow at a free spa. And I realize many folks believe humans are the highest, perhaps most noble, species. It may just be, however, humans are the meanest at times…and sure, at others, the very coolest and honorable. Sometimes all we can do is put one foot in front of the other, and a post like this is doing just that…putting the other foot forward now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this post! Life does not stop. Good things do not stop. Let’s focus on them. One day I will get to this place. You got some great shots! Are you in Van? Wanna get together for coffee/ brunch/something?


  6. A perfect time for this post ~ to see the macaques of Japan and the coming of winter (and the holiday season) ~ it makes it easier to smile, be grateful and enjoy the good we have around us. You capture this scene well, the serenity of the monkeys and the bit of chaos with the people visiting ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Who can resist them with their tiny faces and curious eyes? We always need anything that brings the wonder and the smile back to our lives. It’s good to be reminded that the world has many wonderful things in it.


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