Hot Springs for Stressed Monkeys at Jigokudani Yaenkoen Onsen, Japan

By Abi King | Japan

May 07

Monkey in a hot spring in Jigokudani Yaenkoen via @insidetravellab

Jigokudani Yaenkoen

Japan has no shortage of onsen, natural hot springs where people dip in and out of skin-scalding pools in order to soak, scrub and just relax and say ahhhhh. It’s a tradition that has become a widespread ritual, with both five star hotels and backpacker hostels offering indoor versions of a stingingly hot bath.

Yet in Jigokudani Yaenkoen, macaque monkeys got there first.

In a steep, leafy corner of the Joshin-Etsu Kogen National Park, around 200 monkeys prance, preen and groom before dipping into the steaming onsen themselves.

Some are sage and relaxed, clearly used to the process…

For others, frightened about diving into the deep end, they look (if you’ll forgive me) a little wet around the ears…

There are those who clearly command authority…

Those who hide from the spotlight…

And those who just want to have fun…

 

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