Bamboo Forests and Monkey Parks

After our Miyajima excursion (almost a year ago…yeesh!) we headed back to our base in Kyoto and decided to hop a train to head to the fabled Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama.

Arashiyama Forest

One of Adam’s favorite photographers captured some beautiful scenes here and Adam was eager to try his own hand at capturing the beauty of a path lined with fully grown bamboo. We were anticipating a long and lonely walk along miles of pathway…

What we got was a fairly short walk that became increasingly crowded as the day wore on.

Bamboo Forrest

Don’t worry, the end is near.

But it sure was gorgeous. Much like the Inari Shrine – get here early to enjoy some solitude before the masses arrive!

Considering that it took less than half the time to fully explore the bamboo lined walkway we decided to head over to the Iwatayama Monkey Park where Japanese macaque monkeys have free range. Along the way we jostled with hundreds of school kids to snag a spot at a ramen joint (cue lots of pointing and giggling).

To get to the Monkey Park there is a considerably long and steep hike. Along the way you pass many signs warning of the dangers of looking a monkey in the eye. You are warned to not feed the monkeys outside. You are reminded to not touch the monkeys. You are informed that the monkeys could be anywhere…it honestly started to feel a bit horroresque.


Photo Cred: Flickr

The monkeys are everywhere! You may not see them but they see YOU (preferably through their heart shaped eyes). Honestly, these cute signs are too much! The whole kawaii (‘cute’) craze in Japan infiltrates everything!

Still, I began to worry about how I was supposed to look at a monkey without looking at a monkey. These signs make them look so…approachable (especially without their boxing gloves).

Once we made our way to the top I spy my first few monkeys lounging around on the dirt stairs. Of course I plop down – a safe distance away – and ask Adam to snap a photo.

Monkey Mob

What NOT to do. Apparently.

Apparently you’re not supposed to do that because one of the researchers who work at the top ran outside to give me the universal “no” sign of arms crossed in front of him. I guess I’d been in danger of inciting a monkey mob?

It was neat being surrounded in the open by monkeys going about their business. The young ones were hilarious jumping around and generally being foolish. And man, do those adult monkeys mean business. As soon as one of the young ones became too rambunctious WHACK!

Monkeys don’t like too much monkeying around I guess. (see what I did there?)

The highlight of the monkey park was going inside the human cage in order to safely feed the monkeys. I was having a ball holding out my hand so that they could take the apples slices. I even held my hand out empty to see what would happen and, I swear, this monkey grabbed my hand, gave me the most human “WTF, how dare you!” face possible and shoved my hand away in anger.

Monkey Feeding

I quickly gave the monkey several apple slices to apologize for my behavior.

She seemed appeased.

It was a great afternoon. Then again it’s hard to fail when you have scenes of beauty, delicious ramen, and make some monkey friends.


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