They are soooo cute! I have never seen monkeys enjoying hot springs but I’ve seen countless times on TV. I am from Japan, so hope to have a chance to witness that in the near future. ^_^
We all love taking a nice bath especially in a natural hot spring, and so do Monkeys in Japan! I remember showing the video on youtube to my American friend, and she was like “Omg..they are just like us!!” Yes they are just like us..enjoying a hot bath with a group of monkeys. It is freaky how they look like humans. Officially, Japanese snow monkeys are called “The Japanese macaque” and they live in the northern part of Japan and they can tolerate the cold weather that I personally hate. LOL
They have beautiful brownish fur and red faces and their faces become even more red when they are taking a bath in hot spring. Even though there are different kinds of monkeys in Japan, the snow monkeys are the most common and they are simply called “Saru” (monkey), which usually refer to the snow monkeys..and they know how to roll snowballs for fun.
There is a famous hot spring in Japan. It’s called “Japan Snow Monkeys Onsen Park”..It’s in the valley of the Yokoyu River. It’s in the remote location, but famous enough to attract a lot of visitors to Nagano every year. I did not know this but the main onsen (hot spring) there was built specifically for monkeys..
So how did this all start?
Apparently in 1963, a young female monkey came to one of the onsen to get the soybeans, which were floating on the surface. The snow monkeys are extremely intelligent, and the recent study shows that they are capable of learning and coping new skills from one another. Isn’t that amazing? So other monkeys saw that and started to imitate her behavior.
How to get there
There are several tours that will take you from Nagano station to the snow monkey park. Obviously this is something that you do in winter. This gives another reason to buy a JR Rail Pass because JTB organized one day Japan snow monkey tour. Or you can take a bus, take a train to Yudanaka or Chuo Taxi.
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