Relaxation, Japan, 2012

In winter, Japanese macaques in the Jigokudani Valley of central Japan congregate in the hot-spring pools, to stay warm and to socialize. The colder it gets in the mountains, the more of them head for the pools. I found about 30 macaques enjoying a steamy soak, their heads covered in fresh snow.

The warm water has a very relaxing effect on the monkeys, and most of them were asleep. I watched with delight as this youngster became increasingly drowsy and eventually closed its eyes. I used a close-up shot to capture the moment of tranquility and to emphasize the human likeness in both face and pleasure.

Location: Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi, Japan
Photograph Date: 2012
Medium: Chromogenic Print
Edition: 200
Available Sizes: 70cm to 150cm

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About the Photographer

Jasper Doest

Dutch photographer Jasper Doest specializes in conservation issues, travel, and wildlife photography. As a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, his photographs have received multiple awards and appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic magazine, GEO, and Smithsonian magazine. He is also a regular contributor to the Dutch editions of National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. Jasper's photographs of Japanese macaques, popularly known as "snow monkeys," received recognition in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and appeared in the October 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine. Through his photographic work, Jasper seeks to give a voice to environmental issues as well as those who can’t speak our language or are often misunderstood, emphasizing the beauty and fragility of our planet.

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