Arashiyama Monkey park is a short hike up a mountain on the western outskirts of Kyoto. If you're in the area, definitely check it out, it was one of my favourite stops in Kyoto and provided a nice break in the endless procession of temples and shrines. Close to 200 Japanese Macaques ('Nihonzaru') live at the top of the mountain, where there is a small park and a hut where you can buy human and monkey food.
You pay admission at the bottom then hike about twenty minutes up a mountain to get to the actual park. Signs with trivia questions keep the walk interesting.
A monkey eating... rocks?
Once you get to the top you'll want to take a break and rehydrate in the hut at the top. You can buy several types of food here - nuts and apple pieces were available when I was there - and then feed them to the monkeys hanging on the outside of the building.
Monkeys being fed.
You feed them by holding your hand out flat with pieces of food in your palm, and the monkeys just come and take it from your hand.
Me feeding a monkey through the cage
You're not allowed to go further up than the park but the mountain (Iwatayama) continues a little higher, monkeys dotting the slopes.
Further up the mountain
Except for when they're taking food from you, the monkeys just generally ignore your presence and go about their day. We spent quite a while just sitting and watching them do their thing.
A pair of monkeys having a groom sesh
You can leave any time you want and hike down a different path that takes you past more monkeys.
The sign on the way out
Another highly recommended 'animal attraction' that provides a nice break to temple-seeing when you're in Kyoto.
Me and the guys last June
How to get there
Make your way to the Arashiyama district of Kyoto by train or cab and then look for the monkey path entrance on the side of the mountain. It's about 20 minutes walk to the top up some mountain paths.
Start at Arashiyama station at the top of the map.
- Try to time it for a clear day, as there is a fantastic view of Kyoto from the peak. The first time I went, it was raining and misty, and more like a grey haze (photo below). If you're going to go to the effort of climbing up there, you might as well take advantage of the view!
- There is wifi at the top for all your selfie-sharing needs.