January 6, 2017

Monkeys!

I’m not the only one who enjoys taking the waters at a Japanese onsen. The Macaque “snow” monkeys of Nagano are famous for doing the same. Here’s a beautiful ultra-high-def video posted by Jacob + Katie Schwarz on YouTube.

I considered adding a visit to Nagano’s Jigokundani Wile Monkey Park to my itinerary, but the logistics were a little unwieldy. In hindsight, I probably should’ve made the trip. However, I did manage to see some Macaques recently at the Iwatayama Monkey Park.

The park is in Arashimaya, which is a 15 minute train ride from central Kyoto. While the park’s ticket counter is near the station and easy to access, actually getting to the monkeys takes a bit more effort. The monkey sanctuary is about a 20 minute walk up a series of steps and steep slopes.

Along the way, there are warnings aplenty about interacting with the monkeys. Like this one:

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And these:

And one more. Hey, there’s a monkey!

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The monkeys are free to roam and — provided you don’t look at them, crouch down, get closer than two meters or point your smart phone toward them in a threatening way — seemed pretty calm.

They spent most of their time grooming each other and relaxing. As they do.

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Visitors are allowed to feed the monkeys, and little bags of fruit and peanuts cost 100 yen (a little under $1 USD). To keep everyone on their best behavior, the humans are caged and the monkeys can reach inside for treats.

There are instructions on how to feed them. Like so:

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When I placed the food on my palm (as instructed!) the monkeys were very gentle when they took it.

Well, hello there little monkey hand!!!

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Outside of the cages, humans could wander through designated areas for plenty of monkey mingling.

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And the park’s elevated location also made for some great views of the surrounding area.

But I was more interested in the monkeys.

Hello there!!!

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Here are the rest of my photos from Iwatayama Monkey Park: