A long train trip took us to the famous Monkey Onsen at Jigokudani. We passed through Nagano, the site of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, on the way. That was when it started to get really snowy.
We then had a walk in the forest, through tall trees reaching up to the sky...
Here the monkeys hang out in their hot pool.
These are Japanese Macaques, and the pool was built for them after they were attracted to the hot spa pools for people. They are still wild monkeys, and visitors are encouraged to not feed or play with them. They run around, swim, groom, and feed quite naturally.
In the pool, it almost looks like there's a lifeguard keeping an eye out on the youngsters.
The monkeys run around in the snow. They keep their heads dry so when they emerge from the water they look more like they have huge manes, like lions.
It's easy to anthropomorphise, they are so human. There are mother's teaching youngsters to swim, guys hanging out to impress the ladies, and old fellas just happy to take some weight off their legs.
This monkey looks deep in thought...
In the crowded pool the monkeys socialise. About this time my camera batteries started to fail in the cold, but I got one last shot of a baby scrambling up the rail.
After half an hour photographing the monkeys, we returned to the bus and the train back to Nagoya.