Snow Monkeys Discover Bliss
Japan’s Snow Monkeys don’t only live in Hell’s Valley but roam freely throughout much of rural Japan. There is a good reason part of this wonderful park got this name and we will get to that, but most people who have visited it think of it as Heaven on Earth. The Snow Monkeys who live there know it simply as “pure bliss.”
Credit: Jigokudani Yaen Koen
One of my favorite Shinto stories (one of Japan’s leading beliefs) is about a married woman who had great difficulty getting her young children to be obedient or to pay attention to her instructions. This continued for a long while, but she never told her husband about the problem until she could not endure the situation another day. Finally she asked him for advice. The husband suggested she begin to honor him by doing the things he asked her to do. She took his words to heart and within a short time, all the children were more than happy to comply with her wishes. The family’s example spread throughout the whole land and soon the entire country was peaceful, content, and submitted to one another.
My Christian faith also teaches this. Not only are wives to submit to their husbands but all the members of the family are to submit to one another in love. Submission in the Christian understanding does not mean we are required to mindlessly dismiss our conscience or that we are required to do things that harm ourselves or any other creature. It does mean that we stay humble, reason together with the goal of trying to comply with the wishes of those who are, with good reason, held in high esteem. That would include our providers, protectors, and those who are our examples, teachers, deliverers, care-givers, and others who are more experienced or wiser than our selves.
Stay tuned and you will discover this series really is about Snow Monkeys and before we get there I want to point out that Snow Monkeys are capable of treating their mates better than many human beings!
My wife and I are followers of Christ. We live in a state that can be overwhelming with snow and ice, powerful winds, drought, flooding, electrical storms and hail. We were happy when we discovered, in the New Testament, that we had authority over the elements and we regularly command rain and snow and wind and are usually thrilled with obvious and manifest results. It is amazing what we can hear when we begin to really listen.
Where I live I have a large greenhouse. One winter night, the wind was tearing to shreds the specialty plastic covering it and I was muttering and complaining to the wind under my breath: “Oh wind, when are you going to obey me completely?” It was a complaint that did not anticipate an answer, I assure you of that! Seconds later, the wind spoke to me and answered: “Just as soon as you are fully obedient to God your Spiritual Master.” I am still totally amazed that the wind spoke to me, but it had spoken according to the Divine Word!
Plants and animals can also speak to us and assist the Creator in our enlightenment. George Washington Carver claimed that he spoke to various plants and they revealed all the things which they could be used to create. A book was written about Carver’s experience and is called: “The Man Who Talks with the Flowers: The Intimate Life Story of Dr. George Washington Carver.”
The Good Book, the Bible, tells us, “Ask the wild creatures and they will tell you and instruct you.” (Job 12:7) I have found animals to be delighted to hear the voice of love coming from human lips and they are more than willing to be our friends and to communicate with us human beings so long as they know we are that part of humanity absolutely committed to doing them no harm.
We are told to tell the good news to every creature and I have no doubt if they can cry unto the Lord for food, and He feeds them they can also pray unto the Lord. Many people are very spiritually blind, but the living creatures around the throne of God in Heaven and in the midst of Christ’s throne are full of eyes, within and without. (Revelation 4:6) They are very much aware of how we treat animals or mistreat them. Of all the animals on Earth, many people claim that the Snow Monkeys of Japan are closer to human beings in behavior than any other animal species. Perhaps we should meditate on these things! We will not be alone!
The brave soul meditating in this photo comes to us courtesy of www.snowjapan.com. If you’re into snowboarding, skiing, meditating or seeing Japan, check out their website.
Snow monkeys live the farthest north of all monkey species and reside in all of the mountainous regions of Japan except for two, Okinawa being the better known of the two. Snow Monkeys are some of the most incredible creatures ever created. I don’t know whether or not I could get along marvelously with all that troubled species called homo-sapiens (but that hairy guy in the picture is definitely my brother). If you think that’s “out there,” these incredible creatures sleep in blizzards out on the thin branches of barren maple trees and live lives of considerable contentment.
There are many places in Japan where you can see snow monkeys also known as Japanese Macaques (scientifically Macaca fuscata). The most accessible and renowned place is Jigokudani Monkey Park. Here the Snow Monkeys are happy even to live in Hell’s Valley so called because of the steep cliffs surrounding the Yokoyu River and because of the boiling waters venting from deep in the earth. When the hot water mixes with the river’s cold water it forms natures enormous hot tub that Snow Monkeys so enjoy. You can view the Snow Monkeys through a live web-cam at www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam/monkey/index.htm. This is a good place to get a peek, but up close and personal is unbelievably better!
My heart was stolen some years ago by these incredible Macaques from the documentary shown and still replayed on PBS. I learned that these monkeys have an incredible love and devotion to their troops and care for one another much as the best human beings do. To say I am fascinated by these wonderful creatures is probably an understatement. I am nothing less than full of thankfulness to the people of the Jigokudani Monkey Park who have helped bring this very special species and place to your attention.
We human beings are not outside of “the environment and the ecology of the planet.” We are part of the circle of life. Genesis 2:15 in the original says that one reason we were created is to learn everything possible about the creation and its creatures and to guard and protect them all. To those who have been doing this faithfully we must be filled with gratitude and say thank you. To those who have not done so we say, we are now living in times like Noah’s and we must guard and protect every species from extinction.
Our hearts go out to the people of Japan. We want them to know they are not alone that we are friends of Japan and we are friends of their treasure, the Snow Monkeys. A wise man once said, “Every nation is known by the way it treats its animals.” The United States is no better than Japan in the way it treats its animals. May we all remember that the Snow Monkeys of Japan and the people of Japan are all precious to the Creator. Or as the Greek says, “the Theos and the weos!” We both want all the people of Japan and all the Snow Monkeys to be living and flourishing forever. May it be so!
"The views in this article are not necessarily those of Jugokudani Yaenkoen
or Snow Japan"