This week we say farewell to Japan (for now) on Picture of the Week, and I wanted to end with a whimsical post… and what could be a more whimsical subject than monkeys?

As I was planning my trip to Japan, one of the things I really wanted to see were the snow monkeys.  Japan’s snow monkeys famously lounge around in hot springs, soaking themselves in the warmth, as the winter goes by around them.  With everything else I was trying to fit in, and not to mention my work schedules, the timing of it all just didn’t work out on this trip.  BUT, as it turns out, when the snow melts the monkeys don’t go away… they just turn into “regular monkeys”.

While I was in the Kyoto area, I took the hike up to Iwatayama Monkey Park, where you can get up close and personal with wild monkeys.  I think this was actually the first place I had ever visited where the humans were actually put in cages… and the animals remained free (novel idea!  To be clear though, this was only for feeding.  Essentially they don’t want you feeding the monkeys unless you’re in the “cage”, thereby teaching the animals that the only humans with food are the ones in the box 🙂 Otherwise you walk around with them running around you.)   As I watched them, I was amused by their behavior.  It seemed hardly any of them were happy just sitting still.  There was always some drama going on where, something to tend to… or as I’ve illustrated here, something to look at.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my series on Japan.  It is truly an amazing and beautiful country, and I hope I get to return one day.  Next week we move on!

–Dan Thompson

Iwatayama Monkey Park

Iwatayama Monkey Park
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, 61 中尾下町 Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0004, Japan
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