🐒 The Monkeys’ Mountain in Kyoto
Iwatayama is a small mountain home to a monkey park located in Arashiyama district in the west of Kyoto. After a short hike, travelers are invited to observe a hundred of macaques living on a platform, with the additional advantage of a beautiful view on the former imperial capital.
From Arashiyama, many travelers in Japan only know what lies north of Togetsukyo Bridge where bus and trains 🚅 stop, that is to say the bamboo forest and the shopping street, and sometimes up to the Nenbutsu-ji temple for the most adventurous. But only a few meters south of the bridge, there's an absolutely delightful natural park it would be a shame not to visit.
Iwatayama Monkey 🐒 Park hosts dozens of monkeys in their natural environment, which are the sides of this (not very high) mountain. A trail takes hikers to the summit in about twenty minutes. At the beginning of the climb, you must have both your eyes wide opened to see the monkeys who move stealthily in the forest. Then, approaching the summit, the animals are less shy and will accompany your walk almost like the Kodama of the Princess Mononoke movie.
A piece of advice: it's forbidden to disturb the monkeys (like in Neko cafes) and you should never look them directly in the eyes, as it is a provocation for them! Rest assured: if you remain calm, it's very likely you'll be able to approach very closely to take pictures, even when accompanied by children.
Arriving on the platform, there's a large space where monkeys play or relax, from the youngest to the oldest ones. Upon entering the park’s house, it's possible to buy a bag of peanuts or apples in quarters (¥100) to feed them. Japanese children were delighted to do so, but also very surprised at the amazing agility of monkeys, acrobats between poles and fences.
Iwatayama is a very nice visit that we recommend to travelers to Kyoto, an worthwhile detour on a day in Arashiyama and / or Sagano.