Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Entrance to the snow monkey park

Because there is the situation...

Oh, I had to make sure you saw this. My day started off with this lovely, wonderful roll shaped like Anpanman. To my surprise and delight, it was filled with chocolate pudding!

Zach is making sure that everything is safe ahead.

"Does the monkey see me?"

This monkey was too busy searching for food pellets thrown out by the park staff to notice me, thank goodness!

And this one too!

View of the mountains surrounding Nagano

Cute tiger I saw along the way

Zenkoji Temple

Hello! We had a very busy day on Saturday, taking a five-hour bus trip (one way!) to Nagano, where the 1998 winter Olympics were held. Our mission: to see the snow monkeys bathing in the natural hot springs at the Jigokudani Monkey Park. And the monkeys did not disappoint. Yes, it was a long bus ride and a bit of a hike in to the area where the monkeys hang out, but I thought it was great to see them up close. They have a live webcam, so you can all see them if you wish. Here's the address: http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/ We were told not to the stare at the monkeys or they would try to attack you, and we also were told not to feed the monkeys either. I was surprised at how close we got to them. The caretakers of the grounds threw out food pellets around the area so the monkeys were digging for the pellets in the snow when we got there.

The area of Nagano is just gorgeous, and I took some nice pictures of the surrounding mountains. It made me miss Washington a lot. They grow a ton of apples in this area of Japan, and we saw many apple orchards covered in snow along the way.

The second half of our tour included a stop at the Zenkoji Temple. It was a very busy place on Saturday, and we had difficulty hearing our tour guide, who was soft-spoken. As a result, we had no idea why we were all guided down this dark staircase and into a tunnel that was absolutely pitch-black. I held on to Zach, who was in front of me, and I just slid along the floor (you have to take your shoes off in temples in Japan). I kept asking, "Why are we doing this?" and no one around me could tell me why. At the time I kept thinking to myself, "What if there was an earthquake right now, with all these people underneath a temple, in the dark, in a tunnel/maze thing, and no idea how to get out?" Of course, I kept my crazy thoughts to myself until afterward (I wasn't about to start a stampede!), but really, how could you not think of it? So, do you want to know why we went on this little trek? Apparently the metal Key to Paradise is hanging on a wall along the way, and you are supposed to touch it to gain enlightenment and a future in paradise. Neither Zach nor I touched the key, so no paradise for us I guess! There was no way I was going back down into that corridor of creepiness to find paradise, and Zach wasn't volunteering either.

I hope you enjoy our photos from the trip. It was another great day in Japan!


Anonymous said...

I love the pictures, Ellen! We were thinking taking the girls to see the snow monkeys, but it sounds like something they couldn't handle. If the monkeys attack then it sounds like it could be a little dangerous for them. Anyway, I love the snow! I hope that it'll snow here before winter is done.

Anonymous said...

I like the snow monkey on the left in front of the park sign.

Cpt monkey!

DiArY GirL said...

Beautiful scenes..i like taking photos but unluckily i just didn't got these oppurtunity to taking picture at the outside of the country...i'm just that unlucky person..anyway i just by clicking next and next find out a nice blog of yours..keep up good work..post more photo..gambate....