Snow Monkeys- Karmic Cuteness

While the rest of the world celebrates the Year of the Dragon, the Clampitt clan has been in a parallel universe celebrating the Year of the Monkey. Primates, those in addition to the hairless version in my family, have participated in most of our family vacations throughout the past year. Orangutans, lemurs, (are they monkeys? I`m counting them) macaques of various renditions, and dozens of others I can`t name have blessed us with their howling presence. Having never observed a monkey outside a zoo, this led me to evaluate their presence whereby I concluded it`s my fault. I`ve been abusing monkeys for years- karmically speaking- and now the karmic monkeys are on my back.

It started innocently when as a child I swung from one monkey bar to the next.

In the 70`s I learned that people recovering from heroin addiction wore leather monkey fists around their necks.

My favorite watering hole in college was the Brass Monkey.(Roll Tide)

When the Offspring came along I routinely chastised with,

” Stop monkeying around,” and

“Quit with the monkey business.”

I now sit in the lotus position while I pass along sage advice to my sisters such as,

“Well, if they do it at home, they`ll do it everywhere else. Monkey see, Monkey do.”

A foiled plan results in an eruption of, “Well that certainly throws a %&'(&’~ monkey wrench in things.”

After the last anthropoid encounter however, I may have reached the required level of enlightenment to move to the next dilemma in a long list of karmic “to do`s.”

It started with a four-day snowboarding trip to Nagano, Japan, site of the 1998 Winter Olympics. It ended with some snowboarding and a snow monkey tour.

Technically snow monkeys are the Japanese Macaque. Unique to cold areas of Japan, other than man, these monkeys are the northern most climate dwelling primates.

The tour started with a 40 minute hike up the mountain in to a National Forest.

Nestled at the top of the mountain is a 200-year-old hotel. Its attraction was the hot spring water piped in to hot tubs set in the snow. Originally, the monkeys used the pipes as heated walking paths. The sighs of ecstatic human bathers soon caught their attention and – monkey see, monkey do- they joined in the revelry. In order for the hotel to remain viable, the monkeys got private baths.

At the ranger station I wondered what type of entertainment was on the agenda.

The monkeys jumped from ground, to the Social Chairman, to the sign as we got closer to the springs area.

Onsens (hot springs) are as relaxing to monkey as man.

Feeding the monkeys is strictly forbidden so they have no interest in the people taking pictures. Including this baby trying to step on a leaf.

Of course there`s always a show off. This one spotted the tall gentleman and decided to prove who was the man of the hour. Size does matter in the wild apparently.

They were just asking to be picked up for a blogging photo op.

We were told that although docile and uncaring of our presence, touching one would bring on the wrath of the entire clan. A boy threw a snow ball at a baby. We then observed the genesis of the phrase “going ape shit” as the baby`s mother “went ape shit” and chased him off the river bank- both screaming and hissing. Offspring #2 and I gave the mother a high five as she ambled by. Throwing snowballs at that kid had crossed my mind several times. Or maybe something else that would splatter upon impact.

On the way back this fellow posed proudly. Racougar hat?

Zenkoji Temple was a part of this tour. Allow me to give you the highlights. The first statue of Buddha to reach Japan is reputed to reside inside the temple. I say reputed since no one`s seen it for 1100 years or so. The receiving priest confirmed it was in fact the Buddha when interred. A copy of the now hidden Buddha was made.The copy is shown once every 4 years. Our timing was off so we saw a picture of the copy.

The Temple also houses the bell that was rung to signal the start of the 1998 Olympics.

Those are the official reasons to visit. Then there`s the unofficial reason.

The tunnel underneath the temple.

Fun was had by all as we descended in to the depths beneath the temple on a quest to turn a key that would allow us to gain entry to Heaven. Really, we all need the insurance. So dark was this hole that the only means of  orientation was by keeping a hand on the wall to the right. I was more concerned about oxygen deprivation as Offspring #2 had a death grip on the hood of my jacket cutting off the air flow through the wind pipe.

The guy directly in front of me pronounced loudly “Someone has her hand on my bum.” (Always good to have an Aussie along for entertainment)

We tried the local delicacy- fried locusts. Although they looked more like crickets to my eye.

Photo by Heidi Sanford

A demonstration to prove the edibility of plague causing insects:

Photo by Heidi Sanford

My peace is made with the monkey.

I hope I`ve not abused the shark.

Tour led by Evergreen Outdoor Center in Hakuba, Japan

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45 Responses to Snow Monkeys- Karmic Cuteness

  1. Kongo says:

    I always love pictures of these snow monkeys. Great photos.


  2. Jackie Cangro says:

    One of the things on my bucket list is to see the snow monkeys (though I think I’ll pass on the fried locusts). I’m so excited to see your photos. I love their little red faces in the hot tub – especially the dude with his eyes closed. Ahh! I don’t blame them for getting in out of the cold anyway. 🙂


  3. God, I’m afraid I’d have to pass on the fried locusts, but, heck, that baby monkey sure is cute! What a darling little thing. Think Sara would mind if I had one of my very own?


    • Honestly, I could have just reached out and picked this baby up. It was only about 6 inches tall. Just precious with its hair all akimbo…..It went over to the Social Chairman`s daughter and sat on her arm. Just precious!


  4. Lemurs are prosimians, so not in the same family as monkeys, but they’re primates, just of a different kind. I LOOOOOVE monkeys, I truly do, and those are just adorable ones. I’ve always wanted to go visit Gibraltar, just to see the monkeys.

    Beautiful photos and ew on the bugs to eat, mind you, I did once eat a live grub, as part of a survival course I took over 10 years ago….er…I’ve just grossed myself out with that reminder lol.


  5. Dana says:

    That baby monkey made me convulse with cuteness shock! I’ve never really given much thought as to whether I’m a monkey person or not, but I’m pretty sure that photo has me convinced: I love baby snow monkeys! 🙂

    I notice you didn’t post any pics of yourself eating the fried locusts as proof of their edibility…


  6. These locusts actually tasted pretty good- crunchy with a salty yet sweet sauce on them. Then they stayed crunchy- then they got harder to chew. Like eating tree bark. I assume. But- maybe something tasty to have with a beer?


  7. sweffling says:

    That baby was just magical, I tried to reach through my laptop to pick it up: I do not know how you managed to resist! I am not a great gusher or gooey person, but I was on this occasion.
    Your posts give me such a flavour of Japan: I must begin to save and plan for a trip some time.
    When a little girl we had a book of Japanese gardens which I used to sit down and read on wet days: ever since I have wanted to visit.


    • That means so much to me Sweffling! Thank you. I`m so glad that these posts have kept the spark for Japan alive for you!
      That baby monkey- absolutely, hands down, one of the cutest things I`ve ever seen. Possibly cuter than my own two Offspring.


  8. Reblogged this on littlewonder2 and commented:
    I was just thinking recently of the term “monkeying around”, specifically in relation to our resemblance to primates. Dad started watching an old movie recently, in fact, that directly made reference to that very thing: a movie from the 60s called Bikini Beach.

    But this also reminds me of Japanese monkeys; when I was reading Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson, one of the Japanese people he hitched a ride from was a professor from Tokyo University, and spent all the time in the car telling Will all about Japanese monkeys.

    He also said that Japanese monkeys, like Japanese people, are different than the rest of the world’s people because they have shorter tongues and longer intestines. This means that they have more trouble digesting certain foods and find it harder saying complicated sounds. I think of that often now when I think about Japanese people.

    Finally, the reference to Nagano reminds me of a Japanese exam I had once in which I had to read a passage and answer the questions. It was about a ski lodge in Nagano and the not-impressive impression the Australians made on the Japanese people there. It was actually kind of funny. (And of course, there was an Australian in the blog above).


    • Humm. The Australians come up to Nagano to ski because it`s so close to Japan- well- if you consider 12 hours close! Now I`ve never heard any of the anatomical things you describe, however, the Japanese do have wider feet than their Western counterparts. This information comes from a friend of mine who works for Nike Japan. I of course benefit greatly because the shoes actually fit my feet for a change!


  9. Lu says:

    Those are seriously cute snow monkeys 🙂


  10. Funny post! Although I don’t find monkeys that cute after a friend got seriously mauled by one.


    • Lisa that is really sad. I read about a woman in the UK who had a face transplant after being attacked by a friend`s pet chimpanzee. It made me realize how courageous Jane Goodall must be.


      • I think it’s really chimpanzee and other monkeys in captivity (or if they feel threatened/cornered in the wild) which attack humans. My friend was working at a zoo at the time. The chimp grabbed her through the bars as she walked past. She was lucky, because her colleagues could drag her away. Still the amount of damage that was done in about 30 seconds was phenomenal.


      • Through the bars??? Oh my gosh! That is amazing. I’m glad she’s ok. Wow.


  11. Ariana says:

    What an awesome experience.


  12. Tori Nelson says:

    Ack! The hat with paw straps is more than I can handle!


  13. a-dor-a-ble! need to show my kids your photos.


  14. Enjoyable read this early morning. Now I want a banana and the store does not open for half an hour yet.


  15. Mia Parker says:

    Yes, how can one NOT love the cuteness of the baby snow monkeys!!! 🙂


  16. Sure loved the photos!


  17. tokyobling says:

    You write the blog posts today that I will write in the future! (^-^)


    • I would love to see your pics of snow monkeys! There was a BBC photographer there taking pics and he took some of my friend’s daughter with one of the babies sitting on her arm. They were amazing. Made mine look like I did them with crayons.


  18. The snow monkey is soooo CUTE~~~~ I hope I get to see them one day!


  19. Pingback: Friday Five – The Wanderlust Edition | Jacquelin Cangro

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  21. Pingback: Bathe in a Hot Spring with Japanese Snow Monkeys | When On Earth - Places to See, Things to Do, Gear to GetWhen On Earth – Places to See, Things to Do, Gear to Get

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