Day 3: Monkeys!

14 Oct, 2010

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Goodmorning Matsumoto! We woke up at 7am to get an early start on our last day, in case we would get lost again… Here is the view from our hotelroom on the 11th floor. Pretty nice view right? And the hotel wasn’t bad either. Bit small, but in Japan that’s normal for cheap business hotels. Most important thing, it was clean!

So for today we planned to go to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. We’ve been wanting to go to the monkey park for a very long time, since our previous trip in 2008. Anyway, in this park there are wild snow-monkeys bathing in onsen! It’s located in the forests of the Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi, the monkey’s natural habitat! You can also take a look at the live webcam :).

At the first pit stop we spotted a little tree with a bit of the autumn colors. So nice to see Koyo season is just around the corner!  After Remi took a picture we hit the road again!

Yokatta! This time we drove directly to where we’re supposed to! We arrived at the the Jigokudani Monkey Park about 1,5 hours later. You can park your car near the monkeypark for 500 yen. From the parking area we had to walk for about 10 minutes to the entrance of the park. For adults a ticket costs 500 yen.

On the way to the entrance we pass by this amazing scenery. If you look very closely to the left picture, you can see the volcanic fumes rising from the waters. It smells like eggs, just like it did in Hakone!

We had just entered the park and we immediately saw the wild monkeys! It’s so amazing that they really don’t care about all the people staring at them. They just go on with their regular daily activities: searching for bugs on each other…

Or searching for food :). We could get as close as we wanted, they really didn’t care!

This monkey is checking out my shoes.

On the left one very relaxed monkey. On the right a super cute baby monkey!!

On the left, searching for bugs. The monkey on the right is holding a camera!!! Wtf!

Yeah holding on tight to the ropes. Cause in Japan you never know when an earthquake is going to happen.

Here it is! A monkey in the onsen! We figured it was way too hot for the monkeys to actually go into the onsen to relax. Because this was the only monkey who went in there. Too bad, but still nice to see at least one monkey in the onsen.

Is the monkey going to dive into the Onsen? Abunai yo!

These monkey have a good life. Chilling, climbing some ropes, onsen, eat all day, looking at weird people looking at them.

Looking for food in the water. That’s why some of the monkey’s go in the onsen, because there is food there!

Look at these 2 monkey’s they are posing in front of the camera. Will they go in the onsen too?

The monkey on the right was so cockey! It was like he was in a barbershop getting his hair done. We tried to get his attention, but he just kept on staring into nothing. What a “cool” monkey…

“How you doin’?”

Aaah look at them playing… they are playing right? Not doing nasty stuff.

This monkey’s body language says it all: I hate my life. Haha! He looked so bored.

On the left is the monkey’s valley. If you look closely you can see all the monkeys sitting around. They’re pretty good camouflaged!

On the right it’s a ryokan just in front of the monkey park. The view is amazing. In the ryokan guests can also bath in onsen. We actually saw two people bathing from the other side of the valley. No privacy whatsoever, if you know what I mean…

So after visiting the monkey park we hit the road again! We walked by a map and on it were a couple of ponds, since we still had a lot of time left we decided to go to see the ponds.

We had to drive all the way up a mountain to reach the “Ichinuma Pond”.

The pond was pretty nice. It’s small but the colors of the surrounding trees made it very beautiful. We drove by this pond and stopped just to get a closer look.

A closer look to the trees. Just look at the red leaves! Soon all the trees will have these red leaves and the Japanese love it.

From the pond there is a path to a lake which is really close to the pond. So why not take a quick look.

Wow the lake is quite big and really high up the mountains. That’s what makes it so special. But it was time to head back home, because we intend to avoid as much highways as possible.

We continued the road through the Nagano Alps. Apparently this is also a very big ski resort in the winter. But during this time it wasn’t so crowded of course. It was just a very nice place to enjoy the nature.

Here Remi’s running back to the car after taking a shot of me driving away. Let’s hope it was worth the trouble :).

How amazing is this? At 2100 meters we pulled over to take some pictures. It kind of reminded me a bit of Mt. Fuji where we also could see the clouds in between the mountains. For sure, witnessing this in real life is so much better than just a picture.

Just amazing. The flora&fauna on this mountain is so different from the other mountains we have seen. It almost made the mountain look nice and fluffy.

Remi making his video once again. The effect with the clouds is really cool! Can’t wait to see the video.

But again it was time to get moving, we still have a long ride ahead of us.

These mountain roads are so nice, just like Takumi in Initial D. Too bad we can’t drift in the Demio :P.

After a while going downhill we had to pass the clouds which we just saw from up above. It became very very misty! We had to drive real slow because we just couldn’t see anything!

It was about 2pm when we were driving back to Tokyo again. We had to bring the car back in Tokyo at 8pm. This would give us about 6 hours to get back. No problem right? Well guess again! Of course on the way back there were quite a few traffic jams. In the end we arrived just a few minutes before 8 o’clock. Thank god we made it!

We had such a good time during this road trip through Nagano prefecture. We saw the beautiful nature of Japan, something we don’t really have in Holland. It just made us appreciate it that much more. And we’re already planning a new roadtrip to enjoy Japan’s nature! This is definitely a must-do when you come to Japan!

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8 Comments to “Day 3: Monkeys!”

  1. yeelai
    15 October, 2010

    I like the ” playing monkeys ” :D

  2. 18 October, 2010

    You have a nice blog. I live in Nagano ken (Iida), it is very beautiful!
    Keep having adventures!

  3. Jeffrey
    20 October, 2010

    You were standing waaay too close to some of those saru-chan. Cute and cuddly they may look. But they could be up in your face biting your nose off much faster than you could react.

  4. 21 October, 2010

    Some of the paths there were really narrow and everybody was walking there. Most of the monkeys didn’t even react. At least nothing happened, but I agree with you, you should still be cautious with wild animals.

  5. André Hoogendam
    16 November, 2010

    Good looking blog & nice articles Remi. How you’re you guys doing there? Drop me an email if you feel like it, curious to hear about your plans! Kind regards from Holland.

  6. Renee Debus
    18 December, 2010

    Thanks for the information and pictures! I am so excited because we are headed there after Christmas. Can you tell me if the roads may be hazardous with snow on them? If we take it slow with snow tires should we be okay?

  7. 22 December, 2010

    It might be covered with snow, I am not sure. The best way to check is by looking at the live webcam:
    http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam/monkey/index.htm

    However the path that leads to the monkey’s is not the safest one I have seen, but you can park the car just before and hike the last part.

    But the good thing is, if it’s covered in snow it’s going to be really amazing experience.

  8. yaichi seki
    3 August, 2011

    Dear Okidokyo-san,
    I just looked at your Snow Monkey blog. All photos (including you, your cute lady)) are
    so nice well taken and lovely comments about all. I am a nature photographer,and am
    very much impressed about your photos of MOKEIES,scenaries,and your own photos.
    I will show your blog to all my foreign friends to advise them to take a trip there this coming
    Oct. Tks for your lovely blog. Good luck and best wiehs to you and lovely lady.
    Million tks for this information to my friends visting to Japan soon even we did have
    such Jishin and tunami plus nuc.power truoble.
    seki, tko

    th

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