Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snow Monkeys

Over the weekend Andy and I went to see the snow monkeys near Nagano. We stopped at Matsumoto Castle along the way and happened upon a volunteer guide who spoke english and told us all about the castle while we froze to death in our borrowed slippers. (No shoes in the Castle) If you look closely at the bottom of the castle, you can see that the siding flares out a smidge. This opens up on the floor inside so if the enemy managed to not get shot from the musket or archer holes, trudged through the moat, and started climbing the wall, people inside the castle could drop big rocks on his head. Clever. I think if I had to be there during a fight I'd like that job. 

Once you make it to the monkey park entrance, you have to walk for a while down this snowy path in the woods. It takes probably half and hour to walk to the monkeys, during which time you can enjoy the quiet winter wonderland surrounding you.

A few people told me before we left that the monkeys weren't worth the trip since it was cold and they smelled bad, and even now most people I talk to who have been weren't overly impressed with the monkey park, but I loved it. I did a research project culminating in a diorama about the Japanese Macaque and since then I've really wanted to see them in real life. When did I do this project you ask? Well... in second grade (see how those big words tricked you into thinking it was a super in-depth project) but I've never stopped loving monkeys so it doesn't really matter when I did it. ;-)

Watching the monkeys sit in the hot spring was pretty awesome. I left with a huge smile on my face; those little fuzzy cuties brightened my day so much. 

Look at the baby! He was so tiny and his little monkey squeaks were adorable!

This guy was half sleeping half meditating in the water. He let me get really close. I feel kind of bad about that, knowing that humans are kind of exploiting these guys for good photos, but I suppose having one monkey park with well fed monkeys used to humans is better than people disturbing monkeys all over Japan in their habitat. 

Monkey hands.

This is Mama. At least thats what I called her. Her little baby got out of the water but she stayed and soaked and stretched her hammies apparently. You can see her in the background of one of the photos above. 

Teenagers on the prowl. 

And I leave you guys with this: A fairly big guy was heading to the area where a monkey park person was tossing our some food. This woman didn't realize the ninja monkey was walking up next to her on the railing. We saw it coming so I kept my camera clicking. Her face cracks me up! The monkey really surprised her and didn't care one bit. 


Happy Weekend Everyone!

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