Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Monkeys and Tradition in Japan

Chelsie was very excited to see the legendary snow monkeys in the Japanese Alps. This led us to a small and quaint village in the vicinity of the monkey park. We took a great ride on a scenic rail and saw some splendid countryside along the way to Yudanaka.

We found our way to the monkey park and heeded all of the warning signs along the way.

The monkeys are fond of the hot spring fed pools of water. They relax and bathe in them just as the Japanese have bathed in the onsen for years. The steam rising from the ground became an obvious sign that we were nearing the monkeys.

Sure enough, there were bunches of monkeys, just as we had seen on the park's web cam prior to our trip. Chelsie loved it.

I'll be honest. They are not as wild as they probably once were. They pay no attention to the tourists and simply mind their business as they are being photographed. The younger monkeys were terribly cute.

The park ranger came and threw them a bunch of grain to munch on. They are free to come and go and are not caged in, but if you were a monkey and had a hot spring pool and food brought to you, why would you want to go anywhere else?

How many monkeys do you see?

After our hike we were pretty hungry. We wandered through the little town and found ourselves at a tiny restaurant that served the famous SUMO Chanko-nabe stew. It is a fully rounded meal in one. It is fed to sumo wrestlers who are in training. It wasn't too bad, although we didn't care for the, protein packed, liver chunks.

The small town of Yudinaka is also know for its traditional Japanese Inns called "Ryokan". The Ryokan are often accompanied by their own private onsen, hot spring bath, and serve traditional meals which were historically served to upper class society.

Had to wear the bath robe kimono.

The ryokan had a large onsen bath that was open to only men and only women at specific times. Japanese onsen are visited in one's birthday suit so they are separate. They did have a private onsen which was quite nice. One is expected to shower first and then after you are clean, you may soak in the continuously fed hot spring tub.

We enjoyed a traditional breakfast before hitting the rail to our next destination. The salmon was fantastic.

Apples were given to us at a number of businesses on departure. It is a customary gift of thanks for your business. Although these were not the apples that we were given, they were quite interesting and on display at the front counter.


Jeff said...

Beautiful. How'd you get that one monkey to put on a blue Marmot shirt? They must be pretty tame. But still, you can tell it's a monkey because it's eating salmon for breakfast. As if lox isn't bad enough. We have a book of snow monkey photos (c1999) in the library, and I'm pretty sure the one in the blue shirt is in there, too. He must be like a superstud or something.

Camilla Ruth-EuDaly Barrett said...

Hey Jesse-
Thanks! Yeah, The castle is here in KC- it's called the Paseo Castle. It's obviously "Abandoned" but there are some homeless people that live there, I think. I believe it was originally built in the 1920's... the son of the original owner still owns the property, and I think is trying to sell it. Anyway, it's so cool!
I'm using Adobe Lightroom for basic processing, and then I'm using Photoshop (I have PS2) for detail editing and then the logo/watermark.

I LOVE reading you guys' blog posts! This last one with the monkeys was awesome! They are so cute, but probably mean. Maybe not... but I don't trust their faces! They look mischievous. :-)


Eric and Hope said...

um, it looks like there are 18 monkeys in the photo...

Eric and Hope said...

My Dearest Chelsie and Jesse
It is nice to know that since you have been gone from home for so long... you have found a place to bathe! And with HOT water ~ WOW !!!
I miss you two,love you both,and lift you up in prayer daily...
love the mama

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