“We definitely got more than what we were expecting, which is a lot to ask for on any trip.”

For content creator Rod Trevino, who traveled to Japan with friend and fellow creator Chelsea Mealo, one experience stood out above the rest — seeing Japan’s iconic snow monkeys. 

Rod and Chelsea wasted no time diving into their itinerary, which focused on some of Japan’s most visually appealing destinations. Fresh off their flights with ANA, the duo immediately routed themselves to the scenic hot spring town of Yamanouchi in Nagao. The excitement of a morning hike like no other fueled them through multiple train and taxi rides.  Starting out early the next morning, the two made their way along a two-mile hike through Jigokudani Park in hopes of spotting Japanese Macaques, also known as snow monkeys. Native to the forests of the Jigokudani valley, the monkeys routinely make their way to the area’s hot springs to warm up on especially cold, snowy days.

Despite the short distance, their hike was made difficult thanks to wintery weather. “It was 20 degrees and pounding snow,” says Rod. 

Ultimately, their commitment paid off. Conditions were perfect for the snow monkeys to be out in the hot springs, keeping warm amid the dense snowfall. 

“It was so amazing to see, it was absolutely the most memorable moment for me,” says Rod. 

According to Chelsea, the monkeys were incredibly calm and unbothered by onlookers. Obviously not understanding the awe of their otherwise strange behavior. 

“They didn’t really care about our stuff or food, but they would run out and between your legs,” she says. “It was so cute, the babies would bound up the walking paths and people were so surprised.”

Seeking to capture this incredibly special moment, Rod and Chelsea had their work cut out. 

“Because we were getting snow all over our gear we were trying to hold an umbrella while filming,” says Rod. With monkeys bounding around at their feet, it made for an unforgettable experience. 

At the nearby Korakukan Onsen, Rod and Chelsea got to do the unexpected — relax side-by-side with the monkeys in a hot spring. Given the onsen’s close proximity to the park, the monkeys will sometimes make their way into the hotel’s open-air baths. Rod and Chelsea were lucky enough to be there when a few monkeys stopped by for a visit.  

Rod’s only regret about the experience? Leaving his snowshoes at home in Alaska.

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