The Japanese Macaques of Nagano Prefecture have made quite a splash in recent years with appearances on the Discovery Channel's Mutant Planet and critically acclaimed mini-series: Life. What most travelers might not realize is that these fascinating creatures, the northernmost primates in the world aside from humans, can actually be viewed by any visitor to Japan thanks to a special park.
Jigokudani Monkey Park was created in the early 1960's after a curious female macaque dipped her hand in the hot spring water and realized it was quite comfortable bathing in a hot tub during the snowy winter months. A man-made onsen was created for her macaque troop and the "snow monkeys" of Yudanaka were born.
In this episode of The 30 Postcards Project you'll see how easily you can take a day trip from Tokyo to spend time with these adorably precocious little primates, finding they have much more in common with us than we realize. How close you get to the snow monkeys is entirely up to you, just make sure not to reach out and touch them, no matter how tempting it may be.
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