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Yudanaka’s star attraction is a troupe of some two hundred Japanese long-tailed monkeys (Nihon-zaru) that like to bathe in the rotemburo at the Monkey Park, Jigokudani Yaen-kōen (地獄谷野猿公苑), a twenty-minute walk from Kambayashi Onsen. Legend goes that they started to take dips in the hot pools during the 1960s, when a local ryokan owner took pity on them and left food out in winter. A special rotemburo was eventually built for them, dubbed “snow monkeys” by Life magazine, even though they live beside the onsen year-round. It’s curiously addictive watching these primates wallowing and fooling around by the pool; get a preview via webcam at whttp://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp. The monkeys are so used to humans that they act with dignified nonchalance in the face of the paparazzi-style snapping from hordes of tourists.

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