Don’t stare at the monkeys in the eye
Don’t touch the monkeys
Don’t feed them outside
That was the warning that they gave us before entering the Monkey Park in Arashiyama (Western Kyoto City). Monkey Park is also referred to as Monkey Mountain and is perhaps my favorite place in Kyoto. It is a wildlife preserve of sorts. Or maybe it would be better described as a small mountain on the outskirts of Kyoto City were over a 150 Japanese Monkeys live freely and humans are allowed to go see them.
What ever it is it is definitely not a zoo. The monkeys are free to roam around and do what they want. There are no cages, and I doubt that the fences they have up would stop them from leaving if they wanted to. But why would they want to?! It seems like a scene from the Twighlight Zone; at this park the humans are inside a cage and the monkeys get to look at us from the outside! Well, that’s not entirely true either. Humans are free to wander amongst the primates as well but if you want to feed them you have to go inside a caged area where you can buy fruits and vegetables to give them through the fence. This is probably a good idea since those little hairy people get kinda vicious once they see food. And where I realized why you don’t stare them in the eye. I tried that from within the safety of the cage. The rather large male’s eyebrows slowly raised, his eyes got big and he started screaming and rattling the fence. I guess its that whole sign of confrontation in the wild idea.
Upon entering the park you have to climb about 20 min before you start seeing the monkeys but then all of a sudden you realize they are everywhere and could ambush you if they felt like it. But mostly they don’t care too much about people, that is unless you get to close or break one of the 3 rules laid out before.
There are old monkeys, baby monkeys, big monkeys, little monkeys, ugly monkeys and cute monkeys and they are everywhere. One monkey looked just like my friends Sef. Another one was just licking everything in sight. One baby was racing around with his hand over his eyes tripping on everything. One bared his teeth at me and menacingly followed me for a couple minutes after I got too close taking a picture. All sorts of monkeys for all sorts of people, and all of them are funny.
I love Monkey Park and I highly recommend it to anyone who is in Kyoto! Here is the website link: http://www.kmpi.co.jp/