Snow monkey figurines. Looked a lot like hello kitty =p
What this place really was was just a lunch stop for us. Nagano is well known for their apples, so there are apple trees everywhere! One of their specialties is apple-flavored ice cream, which was tasty considering it was freezing cold out. It looked better uneaten, but this was one of those "oh shit" moments where I forgot to take a picture before I started pigging out.
Ok, back to the real snow monkeys. So we're still in Nagano, but now we've driven deeper into the hills. Picturesque right? If you had shown me this picture prior to visiting Japan, I would have thought you'd be crazy to tell me this was Japan.
From the entrance to the final hot bath area of the snow monkeys was about 1.6km, which takes a good 30 minutes walk. I made a stop motion GIF of the whole 30 minute walk, which I attached all the way at the bottom of this post. Not including it right after this picture kind of kills the continuity, but the thing was 15megs and took forever to upload it, so it's staying at the bottom of the post! Anyways, taking pictures every 10-15 seconds for 30 mins straight wasn't difficult at all. I didn't mind as everything looked more or less the same until you got to the snow monkey part of the trail.
About 2/3 of the way up the trail you get to see a natural hot geyser! The amount of steam and the force by which it was propelled out of the earth was amazing. I was thinking in terms of jet-engine strong. If only I had some dumplings and a really really long stick...
The first monkey I saw was really far away from the bath, and he was far up in a tree, so I couldn't get a good picture. This is the second monkey, who was just chillin'!.
Hah, this next one speaks for itself. I had to hurry and take the picture so that no one else noticed =p
Third monkey for the day:
And an intro to the monkey area, with baby monkey featured at the end:
And this one was the little baby monkey that was still very curious.
"Rolling down the street, smoking endo, sippin' on gin n' juice...." These monkeys were straight G, they didn't give a crap about what you were doing.
There's a permanent webcam affixed to that post which takes hourly pictures of the bath. It's unfortunate though, the pictures from the camera from when I was there were corrupt. Anyways, you could grab the URL from the full-sized image to look at some monkeys!
The bath is artificial, but the heated water from that geyser up above is piped up to it. These monkeys are just hanging out on top of the heated water pipe.
Here's the same little guy from earlier. He climbed up to the post where I was standing, then he reached out with both his hands, grabbing onto my coat. He was almost making a little bridge from my body to the post. He then turned around and put his feet on my coat, haha. If I had gotten closer he may have jumped on me, but I had to pull back because we're not allowed to touch them. AND they've got a bunch of fleas =p
Hehe, they're monkeying around! It was coming... =p
Remember, that was 30minutes worth of a hike condensed into a minute's worth of GIF. Not bad, right?
This snow monkey (or macaque) was my favorite trip so far. The scenery was beautiful, and having the chance to observe wild monkeys without any barriers was something truly special.