A short train from Kyoto and you’ll arrive in the quaint town of Arashiyama. A short walk from the train station, you’ll find the winding trail up Mount Arishiyama that will put you face to face with monkeys at the Iwatayama Monkey Park, where 120 Japanese macaques live freely
Getting to the Iwatayama Monkey Park
Signs point the way to the Iwatayama Monkey Park throughout the town, and you can walk, or rent a bicycle near the train station. Make your way across the Togetsukyo Bridge, past the crowds at the Bamboo Forest to the winding trail at the bottom of the mountain is a combination of stairs and dirt trails.
The hike isn’t steep, but it can be strenuous, toddlers may have a difficult time with the endurance required to get up the moutain, so you may want to consider a. packing. hiking carrier for kids, or b. taking it very slow and using the benches and playground stops along the way.
Exploring the Iwatayama Monkey Park
The first thing you’ll notice when you reach the top is how different the experience is than a traditional zoo. In this park, it’s the people that are caged and the monkeys that are free. Viewing and feeding takes place from a screened in hut, but you are welcome to wander outside, where monkeys will freely run around you, perhaps even picking something from your pocket, like one mischievous monkey we witnessed on the trip!
Up at the top, you can purchase small bags of fruit for 100 Yen a piece. Make sure to pack plenty of cash, as you’ll go through it quickly feeding the monkeys through the hut.
What You Should Know Before you Go
- Iwatayama Monkey Park is open from 9:00 am-5:00 pm (March 15- September 30) and 9:00 am- 4:30 pm (October 1- March 14). It’s closed during heavy rain and snow.
- The best time to visit Iwatayama Monkey Park is between March and September, Visiting between these times means you are more likely to see baby monkeys, as it’s birth season!
- Admission to the Iwatayama Monkey Park costs ¥550
- The steep walk up the mountain to reach the park takes between 30 and 40 minutes. Make sure you’re wearing proper footwear, and bring water with you.
- There are two places with washrooms, at the entrance to the park, and at the top of the hill.
Watch out for the hornets. The Japanese giant hornets have been known to hover around, and we saw one aggressive creature while feeding the monkeys, attracted to the fresh, cut up fruit. Massive, staff were quick to try and remove it from the area, before it stung someone.
Learn more at https://en.japantravel.com/kyoto/kyoto-s-wild-monkey-park/20734