SNOW MONKEYS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
The snow monkeys are obviously famous for the winter season, but that surely isn’t the only time of the year when you can enjoy the wonderful nature of the snow monkeys. In this article we introduce you to the snow monkeys starting in January!
Winter is in the Snow Monkey area. Where the snow monkeys live it gets down to -15 degrees Celcius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) in January, so they snow monkeys will be pretty much bound to the bath during the day time. At night the snow monkeys go back up to the mountains to find a place to sleep for the night. They will sleep in a tree or on a cliff and they usually sleep at a different spot every night, this behavior doesn’t change throughout the year. During this time it is also very difficult for the snow monkeys to find food. They will mostly eat tree bark in the wild, so the barley and soy beans provided by the Snow Monkey Park staff is vital in the survival of the snow monkeys. Thanks to this the monkey population has been able to increase little bit little over the past years. This survival way of life will continue up till mid March, when the temperatures start rising and the snow starts melting.
Spring is here! Starting in the end of March the natural food is still scarce, but the snow monkeys start to forage little greens that start sprouting up from the ground. The more the year enters the green season, the more the monkeys are able to forage and the less they feel the need to enter the bath to warm up. This does not mean the snow monkeys won’t enter the bath, but will enter less. This is the time of the year where you will see the monkeys get more active and playful. They will be jumping about not having to worry about reserving energy. One month later, around mid April, the snow monkey babies start to be born. This is during the same time the cherry blossoms at the Kanbayashi Onsen start blooming. It really is a wonderful season that represents new life. At this time also more greens start to sprout and you will be able to see some of the wild mountain vegetables if you look carefully on the side of the path leading up to the Snow Monkey Park. Another month later and most baby snow monkeys will be born. The interactions of the babies and their mothers have a very human way about them and it is quite a unique sight to see. This is also the time of the year they will start to be able to eat nuts, flowers and even more wild vegetables. They will still eat, but won’t have to rely on the feed given by the park staff as food is getting quite abundant in the area.
July is when summer starts and the snow monkeys start to shed their winter fur for some lighter summer fur. At the end of July is when the summer really starts to hit with a high heat. This time of year is filled with the snow monkeys filling their belly with food and then finding a spot in the shade to cool off and relax. The babies born during spring also start to go away a bit farther from their mothers as they are starting to grow a little. With all the tree coverage in the Shiga Kogen highland area, it is quite the haven for the snow monkeys to relax and a relaxing snow monkey is quite the cute sight to behold.
Heading to autumn! Skipping one to two months and we get to mid/late September. The season starts when the forest offers the biggest menu of the year, filled with berries, nuts and many other kinds of snacks. To not completely lose all the snow monkeys to nature, local delicious apples are provided daily to the monkeys by the park staff. However, there are days during this time of year when the monkeys won’t come down at all. Remember that babies are born in spring? Well, the pregnancy of the snow monkey is about six months, going back six months from April and you have October. This is the time of the mating season as well. There are several days a year during this time when the monkeys don’t come down at all. They will have plenty of food in the mountains, and they are busy with taking care of business. Even though it doesn’t sound like a good season to see the snow monkeys at first sight, but if you can get a shot of the beautiful autumn colors and the snow monkeys, you will have an experience worth treasuring for sure.
When autumn passes and we enter winter again in late November/early December, the temperatures start to drop and the snow monkeys will more and more start to enter the hot bath. Mid to late December is when the area starts to get covered in snow and the harsh season for the snow monkeys starts once again. I do say harsh, but having to enter a hot spring bath every day doesn’t seem like the biggest punishment in the world.
The snow monkeys are quite different every season and each season has its own unique scenery, and the combination of the snow monkeys and each season is sure to bring a smile to your face.