Snow is beautiful. I love it.
We went to Nagano for a few days on our 'winter break' to enjoy the cold, snow, and the MONKEYS!!
Seeing the Nagano Snow Monkeys was at the very top of my Japan bucketlist. In fact- it was on my life bucket list.
We own the 'planet earth' documentaries with the Snow Monkey feature and every time I watched it- I wanted to go. We watched it with the kids more than once in preparation for this trip! It totally freaked out Metta! she thought the monkeys were going to bite her or attack her for sure!! we had to reassure her the entire drive to Nagano that she was not going to be injured or eaten,
Nagano is nestled in the "Japanese Alps". The drive itself was gorgeous. Road trips in Japan are scenic and fabulous. The development and landscape is so different from the midwest and what we've been driving through the past 7 years!! it's different from anything I've driven through ever, really.
First off- I think you have to see the Snow Monkeys in the snow to capture the true magic of it all. I loved it more than Tokyo Disneyland.
We had rented a base van to make the trek because three hours of japanese toll roads made the cost of the rental van with prepaid tolls break even! and because the vans have snow tires- and even chains if necessary.
The further we drove up the mountain- the higher the snow got. At the base of the monkey mountain was this vending machine. With a little path carved out to make your selection and pay :) the Japanese and their vending machines never cease to amaze.monkeys more eager about the hike I told them that first person to see a snow monkey would get 500 yen to spend at the Zenkoji temple shops. I should have known better. It only motivated Ike. He ran the whole way while I was stuck carrying metta and 'encouraging' Zeb to keep moving.
wildlife has always been fascinating to me. And getting this close to it was so much fun.
what I can't figure out is how terribly cold and miserable it must be when they EXIT the springs. Look at this poor little sopping wet guy!!
they probably think WE are the crazy ones staring at them so much.
they would honestly run right up to me and my camera like I wasn't even there. those are my feet in the shot. this guy was basically sitting on my lap!
as much fun as they were- they were the most difficult guys to photograph because they NEVER stopped! rolling, playing, running, etc. They were so funny.
this little guy was smaller than baby mack!! he kept playing with our shoes and wanted our phones!
I could have hung out for HOURS taking pictures and observing.
our kiddos had so much fun, too. I think this will be a memory from Japan that they don't forget! Hopefully even metta remembers it!
our zebaroo all grown up.
have I mentioned that I LOVE snow?!
he shook off a little when he got out-
and then walked on past.
on our way back out a few monkeys escorted us along the path :) I think they were just trying to get past us and were irritated to have us there.
but isn't it amazing how they'll just walk alongside us and pay no attention?!
this was the only pic I got of any of them standing up!
this pic is a little blurry- but I love it. Like I said- these monkeys were on the move constantly- and moved very quickly! but I tried to catch this guy as he jumped out of the springs!!
at the park ranger booth we found this stuffed goat of sorts and metta begged for a picture with him. she kissed him several times, too. weirdo.
Our trip to Nagano was seriously probably my favorite day in Japan thus far! these monkeys totally lived up to my expectations!! now if I can just find that rabbit infested island that I've seen all over the internet. These animal adventures are the best :)