Kansai Region, Japan
February 1st 2023
Somewhere in the sweeping valleys of Kansai, a short train ride away from a chaotic machine that is the modern Japanese metropolise, lies a forest esconced by maple trees. Annually, this foliage transforms and ultra-realistic beams of red, gold and yellow shoot through the landscape. With all this glammer, it can be easy to forget that this habitat is also exceptional in being home to Japan's only primate species, the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata).
Japanese macaques are famous not only because they are the Japanese monkey, but because they are the most northerly living non-human primate species in the world, hence them often being called 'snow monkeys'. Physically, they differ from their mainland and other-island relatives by having much redder faces, which, be it a by-product of their passion or sheer awkwardness on the matter, get even redder during the mating season.
The expressiveness of the monkeys was simply a delite to behold, and their constantly jostling social dynamics provided me with the perfect opportunity to flex my wildlife photography fingers. It really hit home how long it has been and how much I missed it. Next time though, I might bring some thermal socks.