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Mountains and Monkeys

Today I woke up at the bright and early hour of 5:30. My host family and I were driving about two and a half hours to the neighboring prefecture of Nagano to visit Kamikochi--a national park with beautiful views, camping, hiking, mountain climbing etcetc. Your typical nature things. It's a park famous for several things, one of them is the "Kappa-bashi:" a bridge that a famous novelist wrote a story about the kappa (Japanese water creature of myth) living under it. The park also had a visit from the royal family in the 1920s and that helped add to the park's notoriety.

Cutesey version of a kappa? I resisted buying one even though I reaaaaalllyyy wanted one.

We finally reached the park around 9:30 in the morning. It wasn't as crowded as it could have been, we suspect, because Japan had a World Cup match at that same time and we figured people might stay home to watch (they ended up losing 2-1). So since it wasn't crowded, we were really able to appreciate just how beautiful the park was:

Interestingly, the mountain in the first photo is actually a volcano. It last erupted in the early 1900s, but there's still wisps of steam coming out of it. Mildly freaky. And the mountain range in the second photo is called the Hotaka mountain range.

Beautiful as the park was, the most exciting bit was the close encounter we had with wildlife. We were just walking along the path when suddenly there was a whole group (herd? family? pack? clump?) of monkeys, just casually eating leaves just off the path and in the trees. Absolutely no fear of us; in fact one monkey climbed off a tree and nonchalantly walked right in front of us (1> foot) to get to some more food...


And it is very hard to snap a picture of a monkey, lemme tell ya!
All in all today was very exciting; and now I have school tomorrow. Why must weekends end?


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