EppsNet Archive: Snow

Japan, Day 5: Snow Monkeys, Yudanaka

26 Dec 2013 /

Snow Monkeys

Jigokudani Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen) is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.

The heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 metres, and being only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest, keep it uncrowded despite being relatively well-known.

It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months. Starting in 1963, the monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.


Today we ventured into the cold and hostile forests above Nagano to visit the legendary snow monkeys.

The monkeys aren’t friendly or unfriendly. They don’t approach you but they don’t try to stay away from you either. They might sit still for a selfie but they won’t smile.

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)


We stayed the night at a ryokan (bed and breakfast) in nearby Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring resort, where we enjoyed traditional accomodations, including a multi-course Japanese dinner and sleeping on the floor (on tatami mats and futons).

Our room didn’t have beds but it did have a flat-screen TV. There’s a limit to how much deprivation up with which a traveler is willing to put.

Traditional Japanese Meal

Traditional Japanese Meal



Traditional Japanese Accomodations

Traditional Japanese Accomodations

Snow Diary

2 Feb 2009 /

I’m supposed to be doing some stuff in London today, but the snivelling tossers cancelled all the trains and buses because there was a bit of snow. On the bright side, shutting down our financial services industry for a day will save the country billions.

I Got a Snow Globe for My Blog!

19 Dec 2008 /
Merry Xmas pug

One of my owner’s friends gave me a Christmas pug to use on my blog. My first present of the season! Thanks, MS!

The pug looks a little sad, probably because someone made him wear that stupid Santa hat. Pugs don’t like to wear hats. We may look like funny little animals, but don’t forget we are descended from the mighty gray wolf. Before you put a Santa hat on a pug, try putting a Santa hat on a wolf. That will teach you a good lesson.

Don’t think that the pug is sad because of the snow. Pugs love snow! A day in the snow is the best day ever! Now that I think about it, every day is the best day ever!

Oh, one more thing: I do NOT endorse Popdarts.com. Do not go to that site. Go to sites that support pugs.

Oops — my owner just told me that if you tell people not to do something, that just makes them want to do it even more. It’s called “reverse psychology.” That doesn’t make sense to me. Pugs can be a little stubborn, but mostly we like to do what we’re told, because it makes our owners happy.

Here’s another phrase my owner taught me recently: “eating your own dogfood.” To humans, it means doing what you tell other people to do. To dogs, it means . . . well, I guess it’s pretty obvious what it means.

Merry Christmas, everybody! I’ll post some more Christmas pug pictures later.

— Lightning paw