So the whole reason of coming to a little Podunk town in Japan was for one thing: to see the snow monkeys! I knew vaguely that snow monkeys can be found in Japan, but I didn’t really know where nor had it occurred to me to seek them out until a friend suggested we go stay in a ryokan and then spend a day seeing snow monkeys, and then finish it off with a session in a natural hot spring. Monkeys and hot springs? Say no more.
At 8 am, the owner of our little ryokan hauled us as well as two other couples up to the snow monkey park. From there it was about a 15 minute walking- 20 if you stopped to take in the beautiful snow-covered cedars as we did.
The park didn’t open up until 9 am, so the six of us were left waiting for a bit out in the cold, but we were the first ones in, and we had the benefit of seeing the snow monkeys gathered for their daily breakfast of monkey grains.
For the next couple of hours, Tim and I watched all kinds of monkey business from the mundane to the downright scandalous.
After our monkey expedition, we walked from the park back into town, got lost momentarily, found ourselves, and then found lunch. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to do some laundry. There was only one washing machine, but thankfully it was open. Had I been left to my own devices, I probably would have thrown everything in and then taken a wild guess as to what buttons to push. Thankfully, Tim is a little more forward-thinking, and he downloaded an app that let us take a picture of the Japanese writing and then translate it so that we knew exactly what buttons to press.
That evening we reserved an hour at a private hot spring, or onsen, as it is said in Japanese. Traditionally, these hot springs are public and clothing forbidden. That’s right, you cannot wear a single stitch of clothing in one. They do segregate men and women, but still, a nudist colony in France was enough so we went presented with a private onsen option, we took it. At first the water felt like it was too hot to get in, but we eventually acclimated, and 45 minutes later we emerged feeling like what I imagine a spaghetti noodle feels like when it goes from being uncooked to cooked (if spaghetti noodles could feel, that is).