This way to the monkey park!
I did not pose these monkeys by the rules sign. haha. Also, I don’t know what “Don’t put a load on outside” means!
Grooming each other, oblivious to the amazing view!
Mama nursing a baby.
We needed a break from temples and shrines so we went out to Arashiyama to check out the monkeys! Up on Mount Arashiyama there is a troop of about 170 wild macaque monkeys (also known as snow monkeys) at Monkey Park Iwatayama. The monkeys are wild, but you can feed them in a designated “rest room.”
The entrance fee at Monkey Park Iwatayama is only about $5.00 USD, but the real pay is in the brutal climb up Mount Arashiyama. There’s something like 150 steps in a row and then a bunch of switchbacks. Good thing we’d stopped outside the train station to get some drinks because we needed to stop a few times and rest with a cool beverage!
We were told not to take photos on the trail, not sure why, but I was too busy climbing so I didn’t take any. This guy, however, took a bunch of photos of the funny signs:
- At the entrance there was one that said “Please put paper bag here. Some monkey want to get it.”
- We were warned several times about not showing the monkeys any food.
- This cute sign warned not to look the monkeys in the eye, not to touch them, and not to give them food outside.
- Another, less cute, sign warning of the same things and giving more information on the monkeys.
- Even this: “Please push this button if you are scared to walk up because of monkeys. Staff will be coming.” Too bad there was no button on the sign!
I used a little zoom on this, just so I wasn’t making the monkey mad by looking it in the eye, but very little zoom. These monkeys were not very fearful of humans. Sometimes they’d walk so close to you behind you that they almost touched you. I was more afraid of them than they were of us!
The sign that I remember is the one that told us that we were at 155 meters (430 feet) high, higher elevation than Kyoto Tower! And we were not even to the top yet! Shortly after this, though we spotted a monkey on the trail and it was a good motivator to keep going to the top. Of course all this hard work paid off when we got to the top and there were a ton of monkeys… just chillin.’
Chillin’ like a boss!
The monkeys are not caged and are free to come and go, but there is an area where you can feed them. You, the human, basically go into a cage… a building with screened walls. You pay about a buck and get a bag of apples or peanuts. I asked the woman working there which the monkeys liked better and she said it didn’t matter, they liked both. I chose apples. The instructions for feeding told us to only use an open hand. To put the food in your open hand and hold out your hand. Then the monkeys reach in through the screen and take the food. It was so neat!
The feeding house, marked as the “rest room” on the map! haha
Taking my turn at feeding.
Dallas feeding the monkeys.
It was obvious the monkeys had this routine down pat! They’d hang on and wait for you to put your hand out, then almost politely-like take the food out of your hand.
The monkeys were so pretty!
I could have stayed at the monkey park for hours!! I loved the little baby monkeys. There were even a few that were so little they were still nursing. Here’s a short video I took of one of the little babies playing around:
I wanted to take this guy home with me, but Dallas said no. What a jerk!
I guess I should mention that the view of Kyoto is pretty amazing. I only looked at it for a second, though. There were monkeys!!!
Great view of Kyoto.
The hike back down Mount Arashiyama is significantly easier than the hike up! There’s a kids playground area that you pass and it made me wonder if they get a lot of school trips out there. If you’re lazy you can try to take this slide down part of the way! This is where we met a lady from Hawaii and her husband and son. They live in California now, but when the lady told her husband that his butt was too big for the slide, but said “‘okole”, the Hawaiian word for butt, Dallas had to call her out. We spent a few minutes chatting with the family and then continued on our way down the mountain.
The slide and playground area.
Trail on the way down.
The visit to the monkey park was one of the highlights of our whole trip to Japan, for me. If you’re ever in Kyoto you should definitely take this side trip. It was so much fun!