I love photographing snow monkeys, and I love leading my annual winter wonderland Hokkaido photo tour. But February is not my favorite time to film or photograph the snow monkeys. It's cold, and the monkeys have less food and are naturally less active. But in the winter, you can catch the possing zen monkeys; also, in recent years, we have had fewer cold days due to climate change, so the monkeys have been more active, but it's not mating season. Mating season is in the autumn October into December when snow blankets the ground. Japanese male macaques reach sexual maturity from 5 to 6 years of age and females from 4 to 5 years of age. Interestingly close to 99% of people from outside Japan only know one place to see our wild Japanese snow monkeys, and that's in Jigokudani Monkey Park. In the Jigokudany region, there are about 300 monkeys who live in three different monkey troops and several smaller raiding parties. Across Japan, there are over one hundred thousand wild monkeys. The Japanese Macaque occurs in most of Japan except for the southern Island chain, and in Hokkaido, the monkeys do not occur due to climate which is similar to Alaska. It would be next to impossible for the world's most northern living wild nonhuman primate to survive there. In Kanagawa, next to Tokyo, where my primary home and office are nestled in the countryside, the monkeys often climb over my house and raid our local gardens. I will never forget one summer day a few years back when I was entertaining friends and clients at my home having a bbq, and a Japanese Macaque ran across my front yard carrying a Chinese cabbage like it was a football. Oh, to this day, I have never seen anything like it, but you can be sure I always have a camera ready on bbq days just in case. In Kanagawa, and most mountain ranges across Japan live hundreds of monkeys in various troops. Most monkey troops have between 30-70 monkeys, and they have a strongly hierarchical society where every monkey holds a position, any more than 70 monkeys would be impossible for the Alpha and his sentries and governors to control. Often disobedient monkeys to the troop are chased away, and they start their own troop. Mating season is amazing to capture the true untold stories of these monkeys; their faces glow in bright reds, and tempers run high with monkeys moving around quickly and often chasing their partners down. And please remember, these are wild monkeys, and if you visit during the mating season, be extra vigilant not to upset the macaques or stare down any monkeys, I guarantee you will more than likely be hissed at, or possibly they will lunge forward at you, showing their dominance. In the coming weeks, I will be in the backcountry highlands of Niigata, Japan photographing camping hiking for about two weeks with hot natural wild hot springs in the area, and it's where several hundred monkeys call home. Camera's I used for the image on this newsletter is by Nikon I either the D850 or the D6. Lenses either Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR or Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR. AF-S TELECONVERTER TC800-1.25E ED or I used the Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sports. Camera settings for action shots are generally about 1/2000sec, f/11, ISO 500, or higher depending on lightings; my camera mode is on Aperture or sometimes manual.