Travel with Val: Japan's Snow Monkey park a real splash
Japan's world famous snow monkeys are giving visitors reason to swing on by. YNN's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.
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In the Japanese Alps, where hot springs are so popular, you just might be surprised to see whose taking a dunk.
Bathing in an "onsen", a traditional hot spring, is one of the top cultural activities when visiting Japan. It’s so relaxing you can instantly unplug from all the monkey business in your life.
But in one part of Japan, submerging in hot springs is nothing but when you visit the Jigokudani onsen, the home of the adorable snow monkey.
It’s not exactly easy to get close to such cuteness. It’s about a half hour walk each way from the trailhead on a snowy path in the winter.
Native to Japan, the monkeys, or “saru”, are officially known as Japanese Macaque, the northernmost living non-human primate. More than 150 of them have been living there since the early 1960's and are worldwide celebrities thanks to a live monkey cam.
Being there in person is a photographer’s dream - or in my case on a media visit, a videographer’s - especially when my tripod became part of an impromptu jungle gym.
There are so few rules about getting close, it’s a human version of monkey in the middle. Common sense dictates however, we uprights stay out of the pool.
Snow monkey park is located in Nagano prefecture, the state where the 1998 Olympics were held.
From Tokyo, take the bullet train to Nagano and connect with the Nagano Dentetsu line to Yudanaka station where you can taxi to the trailhead.
Private cars are available from Hoshinoya resort in Karuizawa two hours away.