This netsuke, Snow Monkeys, depicts two Japanese macaques in a close embrace, huddling together to keep warm during the ferocious cold of winter.
Japanese macaques live further north than any other non-human primate, in areas where snow covers the ground for months at a time. Being resourceful creatures, these monkeys have learnt to use the area!s hot volcanic springs to keep warm.
Its not good news for everyone however; a recent BBC Life! documentary revealed that the Snow Monkeys behaviour is disconcertingly human, as there is rigid class distinction in the matter of who is allowed in the hot water, and who is not - only the highest ranking monkeys are allowed entry to the springs. Lower ranking individuals are left out in the cold.
This netsuke shows two such shunned Snow Monkeys - drawing close together and looking out at the cold world as their more fortunate relatives luxuriate in the hot water. They look rather mournful, but are nonetheless survivors, and their thick coats and mutual support will bring them through.