Shiga-Kogen Day 4

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Mar 17, 2013

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Flag of Japan  , Nagano,
Saturday, January 19, 2013

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I figured the slopes would be crowded since it's a Saturday and the weather forecast and the actual weather looked fairly good so I decided to go to Jigokudani Monkey Park to see the Snow Monkeys that sit in the hot springs. I dressed warmly and headed over to the bus depot.

I was able to get a bus to the stop closest to the park. I then needed to walk two or three miles to the park, pretty much all of it uphill. I was dressed much too warmly and was sweating so much my glasses were fogging up. I eventually made it to the park, paid the 500 yen (about $5.55) entrance fee and headed up the path. I soon saw monkeys running around on a steep hill on the opposite side of a stream that paralleled the path.  A soon saw why the monkeys were getting excited.  There was someone scattering handfuls of small particles of food onto the snow around the stream. 

Further down the path I came to the pools that the monkeys sit in.  The hot springs are natural but the pools are not.  They've been created just for the monkeys.  They even adjust the temperature of the water throughout the year so they can cool off in the pools in the summer. 

I was surprised that they feed the monkeys and that the pools are artificial but the real shocker was that people were right on top of the monkeys and, in most cases, the monkeys totally ignore them.

It started to snow, the lighting got worse and more people were arriving so I decided it was time to leave after about three hours.  I walked the two or three miles back to the road, figured out which bus stop I needed to wait at and caught a bus back to my hotel.

While seeing the Snow Monkeys turned out to a much different experience than I was expecting, it was still interesting and I'd recommend it to people who are skiing in the area.
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