The Jigokudani snow monkeys - well what can I say!!!! I can talk for hours about these guys.... instead of listening to me though, hopefully my pictures will speak for me.
We have made the trip to see these mesmerising creatures so many times. I marvel in watching them play together, bask in the hot springs (Onsens), frolic in the snow and calmly ignore all of the tourists who wander around them.
We always base ourselves in the quaint Japanese town of Nozawa Onsen 野沢温泉村, which enables us to take a very easy drive to the Snow Monkey Park; is also a fantastic snowboarding destination and a beautiful traditional Japanese town.
The Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park got its name, which means "valley of hell", from the surrounding surreal landscape, which is dotted with streams of the Yokoyu kawa (River) that flows from the Shiga Plateau of the Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park; the shockingly steep cliffs, and the steam coming off the ever-flowing hot springs.
We park our car at the closest entrance to the park and as we start our easy 1.6km walk to the monkeys, we pass this beautiful building nestled within the trees.
The park opened in 1964 and is a favourite destination for people from around the world. You will always find keen photographers there - not just for the monkey shots, but also for the beautiful landscape and surroundings; and researchers and people just wanting to enjoy being in the presence of the monkeys.
The Jigokudani Yaen-koen sits at an altitude of 850 meters and is buried in snow almost one third of the year. Even that kind of severe environment, is a paradise on earth for the monkeys to live in.
I always come home with too many photos, according to my husband. My response: "how can anyone have too many photos", especially when surrounded by such beauty.
I hope you enjoy my photos as much as I love taking them. Any feedback on my images is very much appreciated. My main aim is to share the beauty of these lovely creatures, in the hope that you can experience the joy, the snow monkeys bring to many people.
The Monkey Park is a special place where the Japanese macaque can be observed in their habitat at close range. Though the monkeys are wild, they can be observed so close up that visitors can practically reach out and touch them. Though this is obviously something you shouldn't do.
Don't forget to check out my photos of the baby monkeys playing in the park.