Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Quest for Snow Monkeys

Today I travelled up to the "Hatchet," as the people here on base call it, with my brother's family to try and see some wild snow monkeys. The "Hatchet" is the most northern part of the main island of Japan and it is shaped like a hatchet or axe. It took us about two and a half hours to drive from Misawa up the "handle" into the hatchet part, and it was the most beautiful drive. The weather today was blissful, breezy, warm with billowing white clouds and blue skies. Most of the drive up north is through small fishing towns and through mountains, lush and green, surrounded by the glorious blue waters of the bay. We stopped at a Lawson's (the Japanese answer to the 7-11 or Royal Farm Store) for bento boxes for our lunch. Even the prepackaged lunches here are good! Then we piled back into the car to keep driving north. We didn't exactly know where we were going, just hoping there would be signs that would guide us to the right place. We had heard from friends of my brother's that the wild monkeys will jump right on to your car and even take food from you if you aren't careful. What we found was a park that charged 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for children ($2 and $1 respectively) to see some sad caged snow monkeys. It was still cool to see them up close and I took a good bit of video footage, because I think my children will enjoy watching them. There was even a teeny tiny little baby snow monkey chasing after his mother for a drink. We never found the wild monkeys who jump on cars and steal lunches from little children, we decided that perhaps that is a legend that people are spreading to promote this sorry zoo exhibit. However, despite our disappointment in not seeing real wild snow monkeys, I did get to drink in the beauty of this day in this gorgeous setting.