A visit to Iwatayama Monkey Park in Kyoto Japan

(In July, I went on a family vacation to Japan. Here are my posts about the trip: The Ghibli Museum | Watermelons in the shape of cubes, hearts, and pyramids | What happened to the Burgie Beer UFO of Melrose Avenue? | Shopping in Harajuku.)

Who in their right mind would pass up a trip to a monkey park? Not me! During our stay in Kyoto we took a short train ride to Arashiyama to visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park.

It was a hot day and the climb up the mountain was steep. Fortunately we had brought along some bottles of Pocari Sweat to guzzle along the way. Here we are at the top of the park.


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More photos and remarks after the jump.


After paying the 500 yen admission, we started up the hill. Signs warned us along the way about not interacting with the monkeys. Here, a map has the warning, "Entrance office. Please put paper bag here. Some monkey want to get it."


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Another warning about even showing food to the monkeys. (No sight of monkeys yet.)


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The cartoon monkey is very cute. Who wouldn't want to give him a banana just to see his eyes turn into hearts? (Still no sign of monkeys.)


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Here is some information about the monkeys. Being from Japan, they are called "Japanese Monkeys." Now we are told the monkeys "hate being touched by us." (The sign indicates that the park is called Arashiyama Monkey Park, but most of the literature calls it the Iwatayama Monkey Park.)


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We looked, but we didn't see the bird nor did we see the deer. But it came as quite a surprise to learn that the "monkey park is not only a monkey." (My Japanese language skills are less than zero, so believe me when I say I'm not making fun of the grammar on these signs. The signs make me happy.) Still no monkeys to be seen.


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Someone put a lot of effort into hand painting the serifed letters on this sign!


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I think we went left.


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As we got near the top, we saw our final warning sign: "Please push this button if you are scared to walk up because of the monkeys. Staff will be coming." There was no button. Maybe the monkeys took it.


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Coming around the bend we saw our first monkeys! They paid us no mind.


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We walked into a small air-conditioned building at the top of the mountain. Inside, they sold bags of sweet potatoes and chestnuts for 100 yen. A lot of monkeys were hanging on the wire windows waiting for humans to hand them food.


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It was fun to feed the monkeys like this -- the humans were in a cage and the monkeys were outside!


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The monkeys snatched the food quickly from our hands. They acted like it was their food all along, and we had been caught trying to steal it from then. Ingrates.

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I tried to take a close-up shot of this red-faced monkey, but she swatted my hand and hissed at me.

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I think this is about the difference between a claw and a fingernail, and why it's a bad idea to try to take a close up photo of a monkey.


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My kids thought the baby monkey was cute, but I thought it looked like a tiny H. Ross Perot.


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Outside, the monkeys were bathing in a pond.


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And then we had ice cream.


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