I almost never come in first in any kind of tests, examinations or competitions due to my very average ability, but there is one but sadly the only one thing that I am confident in grabbing the number one seat. Don't boo me, but my special talent lies in getting up really early and being the very first one to arrive somewhere. In a world where very few people respect punctuality, and where many people regard waking up early as a kind of torture, I see this as a precious virtue. As the common saying goes, the early bird gets the worm, and this time round I congratulated myself for being the first person that morning to arrive at the snow monkey park in Nagano prefecture, thereby enabling me to enjoy some quality time alone with these hotspring blessed monkeys.
You actually have to venture quite deep inside the mountains if you want to pay a visit to this monkey paradise. You have to walk around 25 minutes, mostly on the snow, from the nearest bus stop. Apart from being an early riser, it also helps that I walk really fast. As expected, I was the first visitor arriving there, and it was breakfast time for the monkeys. It was interesting seeing monkey babies riding on the back of their parents, all heading to the 'breakfast table'. After breakfast, some monkeys began to dip themselves inside the hotspring to keep themselves warm.
What is so amazing and special about these monkeys is that they are completely unafraid of humans. Some will simply walk right past you without a slight bit of hesitation, and some monkey kids will fool around, chasing after one another, right before your eyes. Those hanging around the edge of the hotspring pool are even more unperturbed by the presence of human beings, likely because they are simply feeling too comfortable inside the hotspring. I literally saw one monkey dozing off inside the pool, with a facial expression appearing to say 'I am now in paradise'.
It amazes me to see such familial and communal spirit displayed within this small monkey community. There were one monkey family apparently enjoying the hotspring together, with the dad and mum on either side of the kid, and from time to time, the kid would demand attention and a hug from his or her parents . Some playful kids would take a big jump from the side, trying to land on the back of their parents.