A little about Japan and things to do in Japan:
Today I'm going to talk to you about the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, and what it was like to visit it. The park is at the top of Mount Iwata, in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto is a beautiful city, and was the original capital city of Japan until just two centuries ago, still home to a great deal of history and beauty. Of all the things to do in japan, Arashiyama Monkey Park is one of my most recommended. Get up close and personal while feeding the monkeys at Arashiyama, one of the great experiences in Japan.
Japan might just be my favourite place on earth. It's a country which is actually made up on an archipelago of more than 6800 separate islands - the four biggest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku; together they make up about 97% of the total land mass. Japan is so different from anything we experience in the west, it's unique culture can make you feel both so at awe and so comfortable, like you're at home. It's completely incomparable to any other country in the world.
There is so much to do and experience in Japan. For instance, it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and is also the country with the most vending machines in the world; their cultures differ from ours in the smallest ways. For instance, instead of shaking hands it is polite to make a short bow when greeting someone - and it has been commonly acceptable to wear masks in public to prevent germs from spreading for many years. If you'd like to know a little more about the country, take a look at this post of interesting facts about Japan.
I've currently been to Japan once, but I plan to go many more times (and am even considering moving there from England, one day) and I wanted to show you a little about one of the wonderful tourist attractions there. Japan is known worldwide for it's Japanese macaque monkeys (also sometimes known as 'snow monkeys'). They are old world monkey species that are native to Japan, wild but often fed and cared for at wild locations by humans. These monkeys are known for being incredibly intelligent, with many scientists studying their behaviours.
Feeding monkeys and getting up close with monkeys in Japan:
There are a few different places that humans can get up close and interact with the native monkeys in Japan. There are onsens where the monkeys bathe and mountains where the monkeys live in their local habitat. When I went to Japan, we visited Arashiyama and the bamboo forest, owl and cat cafe and more beautiful places in the Kyoto area of Japan. At Arashiyama at the peak of Mount Iwata, there are currently around 120 Japanese macaques living there. Visitors can go and see wild monkeys up close and safely feed them from inside the "human enclosure". The park staff also feed all of the monkeys as a group during feeding time.
Getting to the park:
To see the monkeys up close at Arashiyama monkey park Iwatayama, you must enjoy the gentle walk downhill from the Arashiyama train station, over the river to the foot of Mount Iwata. There is a small entrance fee (Adults 550 yen, children 250 yen). It takes roughly 15 minutes up the gentle slopes to reach the rest area where the monkeys stay. You can rest and have a drink or eat lunch there. During the summer season, the park is open from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm and during winter, it is closed at 4:00 pm.
Disabled Access to Arashiyama monkey park:
There are some slopes to get up to the park. If you walk using aids, you may need to make use of the multiple rest stops on the way and make sure that you bring your walking aids. There are rails to hold onto the whole way up and you can take your time while regularly stopping for a break on the benches available. If you use a wheelchair, you will need to discuss access with the park and it may not be feasible. There are slopes the whole way up, but the slopes are a little steep for a wheelchair that is not electric and someone pushing the chair might not be able to do so up these slopes.
Climbing the gentle mountain slopes to Arashiyama monkey park:
Once you have paid the entrance fee, you must walk the gentle slopes to the peak of the mountain. When you reach the mountain summit, the staff welcome you with "otsukaresama desu" which means "good job, you made it to the top" at the end of the climb of the gentle slopes. You can rest here on the benches with beautiful views of the surrounding city of Kytoto and the mountains. You can buy snacks here to feed the monkeys from inside.
Arashiyama monkey park rules:
It is important to remember that there are rules when being close to any animal, particularly wild animals. For your own safety and for the health of the monkeys themselves, at Arashiyama, you must not:
- Stare the monkeys in the eyes
- Touch the monkeys
- Feed them outdoors
- Crouch down or take close up pictures of them outdoors
The park itself was not originally a tourist attraction. Humans would feed the monkeys when they came down onto the mountains, and the monkeys decided they liked the area and would stay there to be fed. What began as locals feeding the monkeys slowly developed into the opening of the Arashiyama monkey park in 1957.
Video of what it's like to feed the monkeys at the park:
To experience a little of what it is like when you visit the monkeys at Arashiyama, watch the above video we took while feeding them! If you enjoyed it, please give it a like for more content from Japan and my travels!