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Monkeys' summer hot spring soak a rare site at central Japan park

Japanese snow monkeys are seen at a hot spring at Jigokudani Yaen-koen Wild Snow Monkey Park in the town of Yamanouchi, Nagano Prefecture, on July 10, 2021. (Mainichi/Mari Sakane)

YAMANOUCHI, Nagano -- Though monkeys at a park here are famous for relaxing in hot springs during the cold winter and are affectionately called "snow monkeys," they can occasionally be seen bathing in the summer.

    According to the Jigokudani Yaen-koen Wild Snow Monkey Park in the Nagano Prefecture town of Yamanouchi, which is known to be the only place where monkeys bathe in hot springs, the animals naturally don't like to get wet, but soak in hot springs to survive the winter cold. Therefore, it is rare to see them doing so in the summer.

    An infant, second from front, is looked over by its parent at Jigokudani Yaen-koen Wild Snow Monkey Park in the town of Yamanouchi, Nagano Prefecture, on July 10, 2021. People also visit the park in summer to see baby monkeys. (Mainichi/Mari Sakane)

    Adult monkeys tend to take their time when bathing in hot springs during winter, and at times they scold younger monkeys who get bored and roam around. But in the summer when they don't want to take baths, younger monkeys can play by swimming and jumping in the hot springs without any concerns.

    A spokesperson at the park said, "You can view younger monkeys playing in hot springs, and people can also see infants born this spring. We hope you enjoy watching the monkeys acting differently than in the winter time."

    (Japanese original by Mari Sakane, Nagano Bureau)

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