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Monkeys Huddle for Warmth on Traditionally Coldest Day of Year

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Monkeys huddle together at Choshikei Monkey Park in Tonosho, Kagawa Prefecture, on Friday.

TAKAMATSU — Japanese monkeys huddled together at Choshikei Monkey Park in Tonosho, Kagawa Prefecture, on Friday, the first day of daikan. Meaning “great cold,” daikan is said to be the coldest time of the year, based on the 24 seasonal divisions on the traditional Japanese calendar.

According to the Takamatsu Local Meteorological Office, warm and humid air caused high temperatures of 12.5 C in Higashi-Kagawa and 12.4 C in Takamatsu that day, which are similar to temperatures in early to mid-March. The average temperatures of the two cities on the first day of daikan are 8.9 C and 9.4 C respectively.

The temperature on Shodoshima Island rose to 12.3 degrees on Friday.

Small groups of about 30 monkeys could be seen in various parts of the park while the sun was shining, but as the sun began to set, about 60 to 70 monkeys gathered in groups to receive food.

There was a lively chorus of screaming upon the arrival of dominant males, who pushed aside monkeys in order to get to the inside of the huddle.

Once settled, some of the monkeys closed their eyes and young ones were happy to be cuddled by their mothers.

Severe cold weather is expected from Tuesday through Thursday due to a strong cold airflow, according to the meteorological office.