Japan is definitely one of the most unique places in the world to visit. The country finds a way to seamlessly blend the ancient with the ultra-modern and provided visitors with the opportunity to visit temples and shrines that date back thousands of years and also experience places like owl cafes and robot restaurants.
The city of Kyoto, Japan is very well-known for being home to thousands of famous shrines and temples and also being a place where you can also find some of the best green tea that the country has to offer.
In addition to temples and green tea, Kyoto has a very beautiful district called Arashiyama, where you can find the beautiful Togetsukyo Bridge which overlooks a gorgeous and lush mountainside, the extremely popular Bamboo Groves, and the Monkey Park Iwatayama (嵐山モンキーパーク).
It is not often that I get an opportunity to stroll through bamboo groves or play with monkeys, so when I visited Kyoto, I made it a point to make sure I added a visit to Arashiyama to my itinerary.
When I arrived to the Arashiyama district, my first mission was figure out how to navigate my way to the monkey park using Google Maps. When I finally arrived at the entrance of the park, I purchased an entry ticket for 550 yen and read the basic rules that stated a few things including: ‘do not stare at the monkeys‘, ‘do not touch the monkeys‘, and ‘keep a distance of more than 3 meters‘.
In all honesty after I finished reading the rules on the ticket I was wondering whether or not choosing to visit these monkeys was actually a sane idea. I was starting to get the impression that these monkeys might cause some physical harm to me if I did not adhere to these rules.
I shrugged off my feelings of uneasiness and I decided to continue the journey despite the impending threat of dangerously wild monkeys that laid ahead of me.
As I made my way up the mountain, I saw signs that continued warning me about feeding, photographing, and keeping my distance from the monkeys, so when I came upon the first set of monkeys playing near a small playground, I proceeded to with caution and decided to photograph them from a distance.
After watching the monkeys for a little while, I decided to climb up to the main area of the park where I could watch them roam around while taking a look at the city of Kyoto from atop the mountain. I had also read that at the park I would be able to feed some of the monkeys from the protection of an enclosed cage.
I really enjoyed being able to get up close and fairly personal with these unique Japanese snow monkeys, called Macaques. I found that the monkeys were actually very harmless despite all of the warnings about looking into their eyes, photographing them, and crouching down near them.
For the entire hour that I spent inside of the monkey park, they seemed pretty #unbothered by the humans in their presence and strolled around acting like we were not there at all.
Although I was pretty much ignored by most of the monkeys while I was there, when it was time for me to feed them, I was suddenly deemed important.
I purchased some snacks for the monkeys for 100 yen and made my way over to the gated area to feed the monkeys. As I stuck my hand through the cage I immediately got a lot of attention. I even had fun telling the monkey that I was feeding not to be greedy and to only eat one piece of food at a time, which surprisingly he seemed to understand quite well.
After spending some time with the monkeys, I decided to make my way towards Kyoto’s famous Sagano Bamboo Forest, which is known as one of the most beautiful forests in the world.
As I crossed over the bridge overlooking the mountains of Arashiyama, I could not help but to feel at peace. The magnificent scenery made me want to stay in the area forever where I could enjoy being surrounded by nature.
After approximately twenty minutes of walking, I found myself at the entrance to the bamboo groves. I made my way past the crowds in the front and headed deeper and deeper into the forest. A gentle breeze brushed over my skin as the bamboo swayed gently overhead. Although there was chatter from visitors all around me, it still felt quite peaceful.
The day was starting to draw to a close and I made my way out of the bamboo forest in search of a bus to take me back into the city. If you visit Kyoto, I would definitely make it a point to spend a day exploring Arashiyama.
Monkey Park Iwatayama | Cost – ¥550 Adults | Website
Bamboo Groves | Access – Located next to the Tenryu-ji temple| Cost – FREE
Transportation: Saga Arashiyama Station, JR Sagano line / Arashiyama Station, Henkyu railway / Bus #28