On my last day in Kyoto, feeling a bit of temple overload I was hoping to try something a bit different and the Arashimaya area was just the thing. One of the highlights in the area is a monkey park, but not your regular zoo style but an area of land where monkeys roam free with some spectacular views of Kyoto from above.
To get there, you’ll have to hike up, and it’s not a short hike. But, trust me, once you get up there it’ll all be worth it. This is probably one of the best lookouts on the region, and probably the easiest one to access. Those monkeys sure know how to pick their spot.
The official website writes:
With monkeys, great views, rich contacts between visitors and nature, Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama promises everyone a perfect day out.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama is especially very popular among foreign visitors.
The park is located on the left bank of Oi River that flows through Arashiyama area.
It is inhabited by a troop of about 120 wild monkeys.
The animal is native to Japan called the "Japanese macaque" and is also known as the "Snow monkey". It is the most northern-living as well as the polar-living non-human primate.
All monkeys seen in the park are wild but fed by our staff.
They stay around the feeding site on the top during the day and go back into the mountain after the closing time.
There is much to see and do at the park, which provides fun for all visitors.
You can enjoy hiking upon the trail from the entrance to the top. In the spring,there are beautiful cherry blossoms and green leaves along the trail but you shouldn’t miss the coloured leaves in the autumn, either.
You might be able to find wild deer and about 100 kinds of birds among trees.
We have also a playground for children. At the top there is a hut with wire fence covering the windows and from within visitors can feed monkeys. At the feeding site in front of the hut, you can have a great view of Kyoto City and enjoy our "Feeding times”.
So we’ll hike up …
And meet the monkeys…
Although they seem innocent looking, they are wild, and there are lots of warnings regarding what to do but especially what not to do with these animals. In the short time that I was I saw a couple of nasty fights among the male monkeys and one scared tourist who got her food stolen. But, it’s a cool little place, and the monkeys seem like they’re treated okay and that they’re enjoying the interaction with the visitors.
To get there:
From Hankyu Arashiyama Station(5minutes)
・Exit the station and turn left immediatly.
・Continue walking until you reach the street at the foot of the mountain.
・Turn right into the street and continue for about a few minutes until you reach the Togetsu-kobashi Bridge.
・Do not cross the bridge. Walk along the waterway for 20 metres until you reach the stone stairs on the left side.
・The entrance of the park is at the top of the stairs.
Definitely worth visiting if you’re in Arashiyama.