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Jigokudani Yaen-Koen, the wild snow monkey park

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen, the wild snow monkey park, which is a location famous for seeing wild Japanese macaques bathe, is located relatively close to Madarao Highlands.

It has become very popular among foreign tourists in recent years. You may have seen pictures of bathing monkey, but in fact, this is said to be the only place where wild monkeys bathe.
So, why do they step into the hot springs?
It is said to have started with one young monkey. Its behavior is believed to have influenced the whole group of monkeys. The park then set up for a hot spring bath exclusively for the wild monkeys.

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Bathing in hot springs here in Jigokudani is a part of their wisdom for surviving the harsh winters

The wild Japanese macaques live at the most northernmost point in the world among their species. Bathing in hot springs here in Jigokudani is a part of their wisdom for surviving the harsh winters.
In warmer seasons, therefore, they are not willing to step into the hot springs.
In addition, due to having graced the cover of Life, one of the most well-read American magazines, and the word of mouth stories during the Nagano Olympic Games, the snow monkeys in Jigokudani have become famous worldwide. Nowadays a lot of foreign tourists visit just to see them.

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The facial expressions of the snow monkeys are very cute as well as bold

The facial expressions of the snow monkeys are very cute as well as bold, and at times are quite like those shown by humans, revealing our similarities.

When bathing, they act as a group with a monkey as lookout at their backs.
Young monkeys sometimes make a wild commotion while the others bathe peacefully, so much so that old monkeys may get angry at them.

At such times, they show a sulky expression, as if to say, “You should be blamed; it’s not us.” They are quite adorable and look just like humans do. Have fun observing the snow monkeys here in the park.

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