When I travel I’d rather visit the more unique places of wherever I’m at. The more adventurous, and ‘out there’ the better. I want to see and experience things that I wouldn’t be able to find back home in the United States. So, when I went to Kyoto this past weekend the Iwatayama Monkey Park was somewhere I had to go. The park is exactly what it sounds like, a park filled with monkeys. They are free roaming, wild monkeys and you hang out in their home.
Although, it is also so much more than a park of monkeys if that already wasn’t enough. It’s a hike up one of Kyoto’s grand mountains. The monkey park is located at the top of Mount Arashiyama which is located in a more rural area of Kyoto.
It’s pretty easy to get to. Either a bus or train will get you to the general area and then the entrance to the park is just a short walk away. The entrance is at the base of the mountain and it is a 20-minute hike up, and it is not some leisurely hike, the entire way up is steep and a definite work out. But, by the time I reached the top, the views are incredible. I could see nearly the entire Kyoto valley and so many surrounding mountains, the views were astounding.
The monkeys were everywhere once I reached the top. Running around, swinging on tree branches, and climbing on top of the pavilion building for visitors. Every direction I looked there were monkeys, which is everything I was hoped it would be. I tried to get so many perfect pictures but, wild animals will be wild.
There is a pavilion building in the park where visitors can go inside and feed the monkeys through a screen. I was feeding this little baby monkey some pieces of fruit, it would reach through with an open hand for more every time it finished its fruit. This was the only time there was a barrier between me and the monkeys at the park, and the humans are on the inside while the monkeys roam free.
My favorite part of being there was seeing all the baby monkeys. So many had been born recently because there were little babies running and climbing all over the place. Some would hang onto their mother’s bellies and peak their heads out from underneath, shy but still curious little guys.
In the end, the pictures I took were perfectly imperfect of the wild snow monkeys. It was truly amazing to see these animals this way, running free in their natural habitat with no cadges keeping them in. I would recommend going to this place to anyone and everyone visiting Japan, it is an experience you can’t get in many other places.