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Hello my friends! With all this talk about skiing and snow this week I thought it would be very appropriate to take you to Jigokudani, Japan for Flashback Friday. Last Christmas I had the opportunity to go to Nagano, Japan for a two-week snowboarding trip. During this trip we took a day trip to the Jigokudani Yaenkoen park to see the famous Japanese Snow Monkeys. The park opened in 1964 and since then thousands of people from around the world have visited the park to observe the snow monkeys, or Japanese Macaque.

Apparently these Monkeys are unlike any other in the world. Our guide explained that many years ago, during a particularly cold and harsh winter, the wife of a Japanese innkeeper started to leave out food for the local troop of monkeys who were having difficulty surviving the winter. One day, lured by the food and the warmth of the hotels’ onsen (a traditional Japanese hot spring bath), a baby monkey decided to take a dip in the onsen. The baby monkey enjoyed the warm bath so much that his actions attracted the other monkeys in his troop. Every day after that the innkeeper found more and more monkeys lounging and playing in his onsen. Unfortunatele, this became a problem for the innkeeper, whose real guests complained about the constantly crowded onsen. In an effort to keep his business going and to keep the monkeys warm during the winter, the innkeeper decided to build an onsen specifically for the monkeys a few hundred meters away from the hotel. Little did he know at the time, but his decision to build a monkey onsen would bring thousands of visitors to this little Japanese village every winter.

If you ever find yourself in Nagano I really recommend going to see these incredibly cute and hilarious monkeys. Watching them groom each other and lounging with their paws out and eyes closed is quite a site to see!!

Have a great weekend and until next time, travel well and travel often!!

~Maia

 

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