A snow monkey stares over the edge of a hot spring (Japanese macaque, Macaca fuscata). Jigokudani Yaen-Koen in Yamanouchi, Japan.
During our honeymoon, Pam and I spent a full day in the snowy mountains near Nagano photographing Japanese macaques. The so-called “snow monkeys” are a troupe of around 160 macaques that soak themselves in an onsen (hot spring) about 40 minutes up a mountain (on foot) from Shibu Onsen, a historic hot spring area in Yamanouchi, Nagano prefecture, Japan.
Although I had seen images of these macaques for years, actually being there to photograph them in person was really special. The macaques I’ve interacted with in other places of the world seem to be focused on getting food (and hats, and sunglasses, etc.) from tourists, but these macaques completely ignored us. Sure, there were one or two aggressive individuals who didn’t like eye contact, but we could literally stand a few inches away from the rest of them without incident.
When we arrived at Shibu Onsen, I was worried because very little snow had fallen. Luckily, snow poured out of the heavens overnight and throughout the entire next day. We awoke to more than 6″ of fresh snow on the ground — perfect, for photography.
I plan on writing a comprehensive guide on photographing snow monkeys soon. Until then, enjoy these photos! (read more »)
I love food in Japan. The kaiseki at our hotel in Shibu Onsen was incredible. Even the rice was delicious — the best rice I’ve ever tasted: perfect mouth feel. We had some rice at a restaurant in Kyoto just now which paled in comparison, so the variation in quality is extreme. (read more »)
There will be a full lunar eclipse tonight — a rare occurrence on the winter solstice. I photographed the full lunar eclipse three years ago, which was an interesting photographic exercise because I didn’t have access to a proper tripod that night.
total lunar eclipse on august 28, 2007
I was planning on staying up to photograph tonight’s lunar event, but it appears that San Francisco has other plans for those of us who live here…
Every year, I get a lovely holiday card from Catherine and Jaxie Gowen, who live in Geneva, Switzerland. Catherine spices up a group photo we take each year with glitter and stickers; this year, it was based on a photo of us after dinner at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.