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Jigokudani is located in the valley of the Yokoyu River, in Nagano Prefecture, in Japan, at an elevation of 850 meters. Literally “hell’s valley”, the area took its name from the steam and boiling water that bubble out of small crevices from geothermal hot springs in the ground below. Jigokudani is surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold forests. The ground remains frozen in winter and heavy snowfalls cover the area for at least four months each year. In this hostile environment, lives a small population of Japanese Macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, who manage to keep themselves warm by bathing in the natural hot water pools. These monkeys blissfully soaking in the hot pool with their fluffy, snow-powdered heads sticking out of the water is fascinating to watch. Despite being relatively well-known, however, few people are willing to undertake the two-kilometre trek through the frozen forest in the peak of winter to observe the monkeys. Jigokudani Monkey Park, hence, remains largely uncrowded.

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© Amusing Planet, 2014.


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