Don't let this photo fool you...This monkey is not in a cage. I'M in a cage!
Just on the outskirts of Kyoto is a town called Arashiyama. They are probably famous for more significant things, but to me–it's the monkeys! There is a special place just south of the Oi River referred to as "monkey mountain". Now this is a mountain I will climb because the bragging rights you get when you summit this peak include spending quality time with some sweet (and some not-so-sweet) Japanese macaques. Personally, I think that experience is way better than near death experiences and tales of frostbite leading to the loss of digits that "normal" mountain climbers may share. I still have all my fingers and toes, required no special equipment, and looked deep into the windows of the souls of mankind’s ancient bloodline (allegedly).
This special place is Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama.
Ok, so maybe it's not really a "mountain" per say....but it is a hefty climb to the top. "They" say it takes about 20 minutes to reach the top, but who the hell are "they"? Real mountain climbers? I have an ankle problem, so maybe I'm a bit slower than the norm, but it was over 30 minutes by the time I spied my first Japanese macaque, also known as a snow monkey. Also, let the record show that my first viewing was of two.....and they were doing "the deed"! (Just like you probably imagined it would be with a bunch of monkeys, some are "monkeying around" wink wink).
Once you reach the top of the ‘mountain’ you see them all running around, chasing each other, & playing. It is a magical sight for a monkey lover such as myself. They say there are over 120 monkeys in the park, and I think when you look around you can easily see about 50 or more at once. They congregate at the top because that’s where the food is, and as I've said before…if you have the food you have the power! (I’m referencing the Cat Café post.)
For just 100 yen, you can buy a bag of peanuts or apple chunks. I bought one of each and feel like they prefer the apples…just my observation after all my monkey feeding experience. To feed them you go inside this little “shack” with wire windows where the monkeys come up and stick their little arms thru. They just hang there, not-so-patiently waiting for their treats. And sometimes not-so-nicely either. We definitely witnessed a few displays of dominance between some of the monkeys and some out right thievery! Especially when it came to the babies (they were so cute!). Many of the adults had no qualms about snatching food straight out of the little babies’ hands, so pitiful.
I could have stayed there all day just feeding those guys bag after bag of apples, but I limited myself. If I had my way, I would feed them so much they’d all weigh 50 pounds but after thinking about how apples can effect the digestive system….I realized that for an animal that is always being accused of throwing their poop, it is probably best not to push the limits. Although I will say, I saw no poop flinging or any fecal shenanigans going on, so I think it’s just a slanderous rumor. These monkeys were civilized—I mean, they even shelled their peanuts!