Tag Archives: Hot spring

In The Beginning – Part II

5 Apr

Luckily for us, the base runs a tickets and tours office that puts together trips for base personnel each month. It’s great if you want to let someone else do the planning/driving/translating/etc, and we certainly took full advantage. Not only did we use this service to go to Disneyland, we used it for another excursion too!

+ Jigokudani Monkey Park

Located in a remote valley in Nagano Prefecture, Jigokudani – roughly translating to “Hell Valley” – runs along a steep mountainside. Covered in heavy snow fall for 4 months a year, steam rises from frozen crevices, giving the valley an eerie feel that hell froze over. {or so says the research I’ve done…I didn’t exactly get the whole hell froze over vibe, but maybe that’s just me…}

Of course the steam comes from an abundance of natural hot springs throughout the valley. And while Japanese folks are famously known for their use of these hot springs (known as Onsen) all over Japan, the Snow Monkeys (or Japanese Macaque) have also famously turned the hot springs of Jigokudani into an Onsen for themselves.

After several hours by bus, a lecture directing us not to look into the monkeys’ eyes or to feed them, and a 1.6km hike up the mountain, we finally reached the park. While I knew we would be able to roam free with they monkeys, I don’t think I was quite prepared for how close we would actually get. It was surreal.

With their stoic faces and broad shoulders, these monkeys walked around like they ruled the place…

…not a care in the world that they were surrounded by tourists shoving cameras in their face from every direction.

I tell you, these guys, they have the life!


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