Arashiyama Monkey Park
A trip to the Arashiyama Monkey Park is a great day out for the whole family. Watch wild Japanese macaques roaming freely and stay for their feeding times.
A short train trip west from Kyōto, the park is in a picturesque area with the beautiful Ōi river and the Arashiyama mountain. If you are lucky enough to be there during fall you can also enjoy the sight of the brilliantly colored foliage.
To get to the Monkey Park, cross the Ōi River and head to the south end of Togetsukyo Bridge. It’s best to wear walking shoes, as there is a 10-minute uphill walk through cherry trees to get to the feeding area. The monkeys generally stay around this area waiting for feeding times, which are three times each day.
The monkeys are Japanese macaques, but are also known as snow monkeys since they live in the coldest climate of any primate (except humans). The monkeys are highly social, spending long periods of time grooming each other’s thick fur. They can live to around 30 years, and the park staff have been recording the maternal family histories since the opening of the park in 1958. This information provides data for researchers.
The park staff feed the troop on a diet of wheat and soybeans, but you can also purchase apples, bananas and sweet potatoes to feed the monkeys yourself from an enclosed wire hut. The monkeys will reach inside to take their treats from your hands, but since they are wild, be sure not to touch them or stare them in the eye as this stresses them and can make them aggressive.
Make sure to take your camera not only to capture the antics of these red-faced monkeys, but also for the soaring view from the park over Kyōto and the Katsura River.
The park is open daily except during extreme weather. There is an admission fee, but children under 4 enter for free. The park is within walking distance from Arashiyama train station.