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Japan in the winter, snow, culture and amazing wildlife.

Japan is one of the most stunning countries I have ever visited, not only from a wildlife point of view but culturally as well. In many examples of my experiences of Japanese culture and their attitudes to each other and visitors I often felt shamed and continually wondered why we, as British, couldn’t achieve so much more.

I could bang on about litter, graffiti, manners, toilets, traffic, attitudes to wild animals, food, kindness and so on and so on! I guess not everything was perfect, they still carry out whaling which I just cannot understand but generally it is a lovely place with lovely people.  

This trip focussed on a number of key sites where we worked with specific species, snow monkeys, red-crowned cranes, whooper swans and eagles (white-tailed and Steller’s). At each location we had at least two full days and often a little bit extra which initially did seem too long. Just how many snow monkey images do you need?

All the wildlife was incredibly approachable and always available so getting close was never a problem. However, as I have learned to my benefit over the years the longer I spend in one place the better images I produce. Often I can run out of steam but a good cuppa and a little reflection of what I have produced so far can get the fire rekindled and burning bright again.

The number of images I took was far greater than I normally manage so going through them has become quite a time consuming affair. However, I have managed to whittle them down to a respectable number though I do seem to have quite a lot still!

Because of the large number I have split them up into single species blogs. This one is about the snow monkeys, the next few will include the whoopers, cranes, foxes and eagles.

The snow monkeys are probably one of the most photographed groups of animals anywhere on the planet. To produce something new and original was never going to be likely so I simply concentrated on images I liked, nothing too arty for once.

The monkeys can never be described as pretty, though their fur, dense and fluffy to stand the winters cold looked very cosy. However, their faces are almost too human and full of expression. In a way this struck me most so I didn’t really try to repeat the traditional hot bath images but tried to concentrate on expressions.

Photography in Japan is not a wilderness experience, you have to be able to put up with the crowds, though there is a good reason why there are crowds – it’s good. There were though occasions when I became exasperated with the chattering masses but at every location, such as the monkeys there are areas where you can get away a little and which provide a different experience.

The group that Mark and I accompanied to Japan was fantastic, good chat, lively debate and very supportive of each other. Our Japanese guide, Harume was out of this world, we all learned so much from her and I hope took many lessons home with us, I certainly did.