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  • Lyndell Daniel

Snow Monkey - Jigokudani Snow Park

I fell in love with the Snow Monkeys on my very first visit to Japan many years ago; and now I cannot visit Japan without spending a day or more sitting, watching and taking many photographs of these gorgeous, fun loving creatures.

The babies are adorable with their cheeky grins, their playful antics and are so inquisitive about everything around them.

The Snow Monkeys' facial expressions are priceless, heart warming and you can see the special bond between the groups.

You might not have heard the name Japanese Macaque in Jigokudani, but you have probably heard about a place in Nagano where you can see "snow monkeys" (Japanese Macaque) chilling out in an onsen hot spring at the Jigokudani Snow Park.

There is nowhere else in the world where you will find monkeys enjoying a hot bath in the middle of the mountains. The Snow Monkeys live in Hell’s Valley (Jigokudani), at the foot of Shiga Highlands, an area known for its heavy snowfall in winter and its abundance of natural hot spring water.

I hope my images can depict the magnificence of these marvellous animals.

You will see so many of the Snow Monkeys partaking in the grooming process.

I was told there is a hierarchy to entering the Onsen, whereby the higher ranking Snow Monkeys can enter first. Some refer to these Snow Monkeys as the "royalty" and no other Snow Monkey can enter until the royalty have left the Onsen.

The juvenile monkey of the group - such a cheeky little Snow Monkey.

I have sat and watched this elderly female Snow Monkey for several years and seen her slowly mature each year. Her eyes reveal her vast experiences and encounters over the years. Sadly, she has slowly become a little more tired each time I visit.

The love of a mother and baby.

This little Snow Monkey was fascinated with my camera and loved posing as I raised my lens to capture each facial expression.

Relaxing in the sun and time for a well earned nap.

Having fun scrambling along one of the fences.

Too cute for words.

I hope you also can make the journey to see the Snow Monkeys.

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