Friday, March 08, 2013

Arashiyama Monkey Park

Oh my - where to start? We went to a Monkey Park! This was not something that was originally on our itinerary, but as we finished with our last walk, and knew that we had some extra time, Dick checked the guide book to see what else was in the area. That's when he read about the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama. It sounded fascinating, so we decided to check it out. We're both so glad that we did. It turned out to be one of our favorite destinations here so far!

(from the handout)

From the entrance to the park, you walk about 20 minutes on a (steep!) mountain path before reaching the observation platform. Once there, you can enjoy the beautiful view of Kyoto city and the surrounding mountains.

At present, there are about 130 Japanese monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey Park. They are fed in front of the observation platform and live in this central place.

Each monkey is given a name, and its date of birth is known. This long-term knowledge makes this group of monkeys very interesting for students and researchers, who carry out surveys on various topics.

Moreover, there are hundreds of maples in this park. Since the feeding area is located just infront of the resting place many monkeys gather there at feeding time.

From inside the resting place, you can give food to the monkeys.

So, it was a very steep and challenging walk up to the observation platform. As we neared the top, we began to see Monkeys off the path, and in trees. To be clear, the monkeys are completely free here. There are no cages at all - only the one for the "humans" when you want to feed them from inside the cage. You can buy bags of food (peanuts/cut apples/nuts) that you can feed the monkeys. You put a piece of food in the palm of your hand, and they will reach out and pick it up out of your hand. Pretty amazing!

We happened to be there during one of their regular feeding times. One of the workers went out with a bucket of food that he scattered around the ground of the resting place. Dozens of monkeys came out, and we were able to stand there with them as they ate and ran around.

The monkeys there are all ages - there were many young monkeys/babies. These monkeys can live up to around 30 years old, so I imagine there were some older ones there, too.

There were specific rules we were supposed to follow:

Don't stare at the monkeys in the eye
Don't touch the monkeys
Don't feed them outside

We had an amazing tie visiting the monkeys at Monkey Park. What a unique and cool experience.

No comments: