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Japan Diary – Day 9 and 10

Day 9 on this trip with @wild nature fotoresor was purely a travel day. First, we flew from Kusshiro on Hokkaido to Tokyo. Once in Tokyo we grabbed a few trains to finally end up in Yudanaka, close to Nagano. A few minutes drive from Yudanaka and you arrive in Jigokudani or “Hell Valley”. It is called Hell Valley due to the thermal activity in the valley with steam and hot water forcing its way out from underneath, resulting in a “hellish” looking valley.

But I am not there for the thermal activity. Hell no! (pun intended…) The valley is also known for the wild Japanese macaques – also known as Snow monkeys. That! is why I am there :) The monkeys are fed by the locals and also like to take hot baths in the thermal pools in the area.

No visitors are let in until 9AM so a relaxed morning for once with proper breakfast at the hotel etc. The only way to reach the area where the monkeys like to hang around is through a 1.6km track through the forrest. Once there its more like heaven than hell for me :) Monkeys everywhere – In the pools, around your feet, in the slopes, in the narrow river and anywhere else you can imagine. Paradise…

As a photographer, at least for me, these situations can be a bit overwhelming and with the excitement it can be quite hard to concentrate on the job at hand. I find it hard to be creative. This has happened to me before and in some weird way I almost loose motivation to photograph. After a whole day shooting, I left the valley less than satisfied – photographically speaking. This is not due to anything else than my own way of dealing with these kind of situations. To myself I sometimes call this an orientation day. You get to know a new subject and a new area. Normally, the day after, you can put the excitement to the side and concentrate more on the photography and try to be more creative. I am really looking forward to tomorrow. The forecast is showing snow which would make me even more happy :)