Iwatayama Monkey Park
In Kyoto? Monkey see, monkey do it!
Kyoto’s Arashiyama area is full of some of the best spots to experience Japanese culture. When you are done absorbing the area’s history, take a break to feed some adorable wild monkeys and get a great view at the Iwatayama Monkey Park.
Found just south of the Togetsukyo Bridge, the entrance to the park is a small shrine. Take the 20- to 30-minute hike up the mountain, watching out for monkeys running wild in the park. It boasts about 120 snow monkeys that live on the mountain side, with the lure of food keeping them around for visitors to see. They are native to Japan, and, yes, these are the type of monkeys seen in iconic photos in which they’re bathing in hot springs in winter.
When you reach the top you will find a small hut that sells treats for the monkeys. For ¥100, you can buy dried apples, sweet potatoes or peanuts. It’s a nice change of pace to realize that you are the one in the cage, while the wild monkeys climb the fenced windows, reaching their small hands through to grab snacks. Keep a lookout for babies still clinging to their mothers.
What famous shrine is this?
After you are done feeding them, walk outside and take in the spectacular view of Kyoto from the mountain summit. There are benches to sit and relax, while the wild monkeys run free around you.
Before you go
The best times to visit are spring and fall when the weather isn’t too hot or cold. However, the park is sometimes closed early due to extreme heat. The path winds through the woods, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Also, heed the warnings along the path. Don’t stare the monkeys in the eye and do not feed them until you are safely inside.