This weekend my friend Liz visited from down in Shiga prefecture, and her main objective (apart from to see me of course) was to see the snow monkeys, for which Nagano is famous. I hadn't yet been either so today was a great chance to go.

A great number of macaque monkeys come to Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑) in the winter months to bathe in the hot natural water. Despite not having any snow coverage yet it was still fascinating to watch so many monkeys together, enjoying themselves and completely oblivious to the people taking photographs. I guess they must be used to it by now!

I was particularly amused seeing the monkeys after they'd dipped their heads in the water. It was like their heads had suddenly shrunk! I commented that I thought it made them look a bit more like old men.

There's a great website about the park and access to it and its environs here. The map provided helped us to find the lower parking area and from there we took the quiet 1.6km track through the forest to get to the park.

Here are four of my favourite photos from the day.