The Japanese Macaque (commonly known as the ‘Snow Monkey’) is unique in its behavior. Best known because it takes to the geothermal spring waters in winter as a way to get warm. So the story goes, it is only a little over 50 years ago when a female monkey first started soaking in the spring water to get some warm comfort from the -15C they sometimes have to endure.
Like many, and because of their nick name, I jumped to the conclusion that snow monkeys only entered the water in winter. On a recent visit to the ancient town of Shibu Onsen we also went to the park (only about 2.5ks away). Not expecting to see these creatures at this time of the year (summer) – I was surprised.
The bigger surprise was just like humans, the youngsters were fooling about in the water. Did you know that not only can they swim but they enjoy it too? They seem to ignore the visitors and just have fun. Although it was quite warm, the monkeys only seemed to play in the hot spring water pool (about 30C in summer and about 40C in winter). There are pristine cool streams and rivers just nearby yet they are not a ‘fun’ area it seems. If you click on the picture below you will see a video of the tykes we saw in action.