Nihon-zaru (Japanese Macaque) Order: Primates Family: Cercopithecidae Genus: Macaca Scientific name: Macaca fuscata English name: Japanese Macaque
Japanese Macaque is one of the most familiar animals for Japanese people with folk tales, nursery rhymes, proverbs and Saru-mawashi (performances by trained monkeys). On the other hand we have mistaken beliefs and inaccurate information about the monkey which carried by TV programs, media and so on. They just pick up some specific and farcical behaviors of monkeys’ just for showing up.
For example, we often see the monkey with long tail in picture story books. In fact, the tail of the Japanese Macaque is not long. Also we see pictures of monkeys with crinkled forehead. But they have no ‘forehead’ as we say. They have hair just above their eyes. We also see other improper images of monkeys quite often.
So we, the Jigokudani Yaen-koen, would like to be a pilot for your correct understanding about the Japanese Macaque.
Inhabits only Japan
There exist about 180 species of monkey all over the world, such as gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutan, baboon and squirrel etc. Most of them inhabit Africa and South East Asia, from the tropic zone to the subtropical zone. Unlike those species, the Japanese Macaque is known as the world’s northernmost non-human wild primate. Their habitat is throughout Japan, mainly broad leaved forest area, except Hokkaido and the archipelago of Ryukyu (Okinawa).
Monkeys living under the extreme cold weather like 10degrees below zero are unique in the world. They are very popular as so-called ‘Snow Monkey’ in foreign countries. The Japanese Macaque is the endemic species of Japan. We also have Yaku-zaru, which inhabits only in Yakushima Island (Kagoshima pref.) and it is one of the subspecies of the Japanese Macaque. Taiwan monkey, Rhesus monkey and Crab-eating monkey are closely related to the Japanese Macaque.