Back by popular demand, it’s “Korean Word of the Week”! Ok, well that was never a thing but my most dedicated reader (that’s you, Mom) suggested it, so I’m trying to incorporate more Korean vocabulary into my posts.
People, nuni wayo. (It’s snowy.) And juwohyo. (It’s cold.) Got that? Hopefully those of you who visit won’t have to use those phrases.
We’ve been learning how to talk about the weather in our language lessons, and between that and the fact that I started preparing a post about the snow monkeys in Japan, I find it very ironic that it turned out to be a winter wonderland outside today. It doesn’t snow often here in Ulsan, from what I’ve been told, but today we learned something about our darling Minnie. She’s a snow bunny – I mean dog! She was running wild in it today and was just loving all the frosty goodness! Which is weird because this dog won’t go higher than elbow deep in water.
Well I’ve gotten way off track, but that’s okay, because we now turn to some other cute animals in the snow! To give you a bit of background, the “snow monkeys” as they are known since being photographed by the ever popular National Geographic, are scientifically known as Macaca fuscata, or the Japanese macaque. They are the northern-most living and coldest-climate-dwelling primate. Are those real terms? I think I just made them up.
Anyhow, we visited them in a town called Yamanouchi, Japan, a 45 minute drive from Nagano. Once we arrived in the parking lot, it was a nice thirty minute hike up to where the monkeys like to hang out, and it was every bit as nuni ohda (snowy) and jupda (cold) as it looks.
A local attraction near Nagano, the monkey park is a must see if you’re skiing in the area. But don’t try to go in the summer like a couple of our friends did – there won’t be anything to see. We were lucky enough to arrive during mating season, though I’m sure everybody says that. But seriously, we did catch a glimpse of what Wikipedia describes as “During the mating season, the face and genitalia of males redden and the tail will stand erect.” No need to shield your eyes, I avoided those photos.
Enjoying the monkey life.
We were expecting to get pretty close to the monkeys based on the little research we did to prepare for this excursion, but I don’t think any of us predicted literally having monkeys whiz past us on the fence railings or running around our feet in a game of chase. It was incredible how fast they were and it was intimidating at times trying to dodge them, as you were never sure how vicious they could get. They are monkeys, after all.
It was extremely difficult trying to pose with these little guys. They are so used to human interaction that they virtually ignore all human existence, and that combined with ADHD-like energy makes it really difficult, if not impossible, to get them to stop and look at your camera at the same time you are.
The monkeys were quite used to human interaction.
It was an adventure in action-shooting for me, but we did find the best place to get a good shot was around the hot springs where the monkeys quieted down a bit to enjoy the naturally warm water that they come to this area specifically for in the winter.
Who doesn’t enjoy a hot spring on occasion?
And this little guy is Gregory. He just looked like a Gregory to me. He was my model. Somebody also mentioned he could be named Benjamin because he looks like the tiny old man Benjamin Button.
I also captured him nearly falling off of the bridge railing. Don’t worry, the drop was only about 6 feet. Plus, he didn’t actually fall.
More monkeying around to come, but next time it will be from the slopes of Shiga Kogen!