After approximately a 30 minute walk from the car park, we arrive at Jigokudani (Hell Valley). The valley is littered with steaming hot springs and that is why the locals call this place Hell Valley. The valley, which lies 850 metres above sea level, is home to a troop of Japanese macaques (also known as snow monkeys). The monkeys descend into the valley in the winter months to find food that has been placed by rangers. Due to the food available nowadays the troop is often staying in the valley even in the summer months.
This is the only place in the world where monkeys bathe in hot springs.
Preferably you want a crisp and snowy landscape for the images. We were not that lucky and it wasn't much snow at all. The fact that nature and animals are not following the carefully prepared "script" is far too common and as photographers, we are used to having to adapt.
I decided to concentrate on behaviour, close-ups and expression instead of the wider animal-in-its-environment shot. Monkeys always show plenty of expressions and interesting behaviour.
This Japanese macaque (or snow monkey) mother and her young are snuggling up together in a big ball of fur. Sitting only centimetres away from a small, but very warm geothermal hot spring, they manage to keep each other warm.