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Japanese Macaque Monkeys

These Japanese Macaques are native to Japan, inhabiting 3 of the 4 islands: Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. These monkeys are larger, more muscular, than many other macaques and have the well known pink faces and short furry tails. The nickname ‘Snow Monkey’ comes from the fact that they often live in snowy regions and can be found bathing in hot springs (onsens) when it gets cold or sleeping high up in trees to avoid snow falling on them. These monkeys are important in Japan’s culture, featuring in various myths, folktales and childhood stories such as ‘The Battle of the Crab and the Monkey’ (さるかに合戦). They are also found in the Buddhist proverb ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.’ The Three Wise Monkeys, named Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru, are found covering their eyes (see no evil); covering their ears (hears no evil); covering their mouth (speaks no evil). You'll notice that their names end in 'zaru' which comes from the Japanese word for monkey 'saru' and in compound words this becomes 'zaru'.

Japanese macaques have also been the centre of some extensive primate research on Stone Handling (SH). The studies looked at the acquisition of behaviours and assessed the influence of different genetic and environmental factors as well as studying the relative impact of environmental stimuli (exposure to rocks which could be used to carry out the action) and social stimuli (exposure to other SH individuals as an example of the action). These studies are important in the fields of inheritance and animal behaviour - see Acquisition and Development of Stone Handling Behavior in Infant Japanese Macaques for more information.

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