In the Spring, photographers visit Japan to photograph the gorgeous cherry blossoms blooming around the beautiful temples in Kyoto. But when Winter rolls around, the reason to visit gets a bit… harrier.

The reason you and your favorite camera should visit Japan in the Winter can be summed up in three words: Japanese Snow Monkeys.

These little gals and guys, officially known as the Japanese macaque, are a particularly expressive species of monkey native to Japan. They earned their nickname “snow monkey” because, to quote Wikipedia, “no other non-human primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate.”

Facebook Update by Marsel van Oosten on

This is probably the most popular photo of a Japanese macaque ever taken. It was captured by 500px user and wildlife photographer Marsel Van Oosten, who shared the story behind the shot in this ISO article.

Japanese Snow Monkeys live in areas where snow covers the ground several months out of the year, and the ones you’ve probably seen in pictures live in Jigokudani Monkey Park where they spend a lot of time warming up in the hot springs during the winter months.

That, in and of itself, should be enough reason to go visit these interesting creatures, but if you need more inspiration, we’ve put together a list of the Top 15 reasons to go photograph the Japanese Snow Monkeys this winter:

1. They’re huggers…

cool... by mommam 777 on

2. You haven’t lived until you’ve been flipped off by another species

Japanese Macaque showing middle finger by Jari Peltomäki on

3. Sometimes they stare at a light source like zombies… us humans can probably relate to that.

Watching Television by Marsel van Oosten on

4. They, too, were disgusted by that one thing Kanye said.

Oh Shit, I

5. How could you say “no” to that face!?

First Winter II by Ben Torode on

6. They’re probably the only other species on Earth that has at some point tried to make a snowman… snow monkey?… snow monkey.

Carrying the Snowball by Masashi Mochida on

7. They’ve mastered the art of relaxation…

Nakama by Jason Arney on

8. They’ll come say hi if you’re having a rough day…

Monkey Day Spa by Robert Mullner on

9. You could accurately describe them as “majestic as f***”…

Steamy Bath by Marsel van Oosten on

10. They don’t mind closeups

Hot spring feels really good by Masashi Mochida on

11. They won’t judge you for snacking on the job… they do it too

cold air and hot bath by Stefano Sitzia on

12. They take good care of their kids…

Mother and Her Baby by Kenji Yamamura on

13. Family photos are totally okay… and super intimate

8 Eyes, 1 Vision by Ade Photography on

14. They, too, go to the dentist… who also happens to be their neighbor, massage therapist, and mom

Dental checkup by Masashi Mochida on

15. Just look at them! They’re lonely!

The aliens by Julia Wimmerlin on

Want to see more snow monkeys? Click here and browse away! And if you have your own photo of the Japanese macaques being quirky or just… being… drop a link in the comments down below!