Monkey Onsen, Nagano

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The monkey park itself is part of Joshin-etsu Kogen National Park, very close to where the snowboarding events were held.  The valley is called “Jigokudano,” literally translated as “hell valley” because of the amount of hot springs filling the air with hot vapor and the smell of rotten eggs.  It’s rather hard to get there even in the summer!  We had to drive up a tiny road, barely wide enough for 1 1/2 cars at an uncomfortable 40 degree angle with the road steeply dropping off the side of the mountain.  Luckily my friend who was driving live a long time in Denver and was used to mountain driving!  After we got there we parked and had a 10 minute walk along the steaming, multi-colored river to the valley.  Then, as we came around the entrance pavilion, there they were – at least 40 monkeys playing, sunning, swimming, fighting, and generally being very relaxed and at home with the scores of tourists who had come to see them that day!

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I was amazed how affectionate the monkey mothers were.... check out that little face!

We were really surprised at how accepting the monkeys were of our presence.  I guess they get so many visitors with cameras that they don’t even notice anymore!  The mothers didn’t even mind us peering at their very small babies, who were extremely cute.  I know monkeys and humans are related, but I didn’t realize just how human theses little guys were.  Sleeping under bushes, nursing their babies, it was just like a scene from a human bath house!

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Me? I'm not doing anything, just hanging out... ^^;;;

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You can watch the monkeys year-round on their Webcam.

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The first pitcher plant I've ever seen growing wild! It was a beautiful purple color.

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Mom's tired too! Nap time!

Can anyone identify that interesting plant?  I have not idea how to check on it in Japanese…

~MS the Younger

Oh, and PS:  More interesting info on the valley here.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leafless
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 00:33:54

    The tenderness shared by the mom monkey and the child monkey is really touching. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  2. dalspot
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 08:46:39

    Cool! Very nice. Why the name “snow monkey”? Because they are white?

    Bathing with snow monkies! Aaagghhh!

    Reply

    • MingP
      Jul 02, 2009 @ 09:48:27

      They are called Snow Monkeys both because they are white and because of what Nagano is truly best known for – LARGE QUANTITIES OF SNOW.

      And your secondly, you don’t get to bath with the monkeys at this particular location. It’s *their* onsen and they let you know that in the form of attacking your face.

      Reply

  3. MadSilence to&w
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 08:51:16

    The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant with a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap. Bugs go in but can’t get out. I’ve seen small ones here in the US. The picture looks like a larger sub-tropical variety.

    Other carnivorous plants: Venus fly trap & sundews

    Reply

  4. Trackback: » Uncovering an ukiyo-e master in Obuse architecture school
  5. dmariemart
    Jul 08, 2009 @ 09:20:20

    This is a beautiful animal!

    Reply

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