Jigokudani Yaenkoen, in the Nagano Prefecture, Japan is famous for its "Snow Monkey Park". With Japan lying on the seismically active western Pacific rim, the region has considerable geo-thermal activity with numerous hot springs bringing near boiling water to the surface. This natural hot water supply means that many of the nearby hotels and guest houses feature Onsens, traditional Japanese bath houses taking advantage of the water. In February, the height of winter in Japan, with overnight temperatures dropping well below freezing, these onsens are indeed a welcome luxury. One such outdoor onsen exists within the monkey park and this, together with regular feeding by park rangers, means Snow Monkeys, or Japanese Macaques, happily spend much of the day in or around the hot water. In recent years this park has become quite well known with the result that visitor numbers have increased markedly, prompting some restrictions being placed on access. Previously visitors could get to within inches of the monkeys as they luxuriated in the pool, now there is a fence in place keeping the humans back slightly. A sensible solution to the parks increased visitation.
There is quite a complex social dynamic within the monkey troop with all sorts of behaviour being displayed, some of it quite aggressive.
Today's image is what might be called an animal portrait, I'll endeavour to post some more in the days ahead, internet connections and flakey laptop computer permitting! ~KD.
This image is part of the Winter in Japan gallery.