Arashiyama Monkey Park
One of my favorite places in Japan was Kyoto, and Arashiyama added to that experience. A beautiful, mountainous location overlooking the city of Kyoto, teeming with nature and wild life. Plenty of things to see and do, and if you want to hang out with some Monkey’s? You’ve come to the right place…
How to see Japanese Snow Monkeys
There are two places in Japan that tourists can safely see the infamous Japanese Macaque (snow monkeys). Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and Arashiyama Monkey Park. We opted
for the latter because it’s in Kyoto which we were already touring. Even if you are staying in Northern Tokyo, Jigokudani is rather out of the way. I’m sure there are perks to Jigokudani (a decent hike around snowy terrain; plus you get to see the monkey’s bathing in the onsens (hot spas), but that didn’t mean Arashiyama wasn’t still great – it was still an exercise induced treat.
Arashiyama Monkey Park
Getting there is easy. It’s nestled in a quaint part of Kyoto in a touristy part of town. There are signs guiding you to the bottom of the mountain in which it’s located. From there you purchase your $5 pass, take a 15 minute hike up the mountain (not for the physically impaired), and at the park you arrive!
What To Expect
It’s touristy – but that that won’t detract from your experiences. The monkey’s are cute, and you may feed them from a designated area. There are posted warnings about what and what not to do with the monkey’s. Don’t touch, stare, or harass them. You can only feed them in the designated areas for your safety. They’re wild animals after all so if you move out of their comfort zone they may attack or get aggressive.
They’re cute, it overlooks the beautiful city of Kyoto, and it’s fun to see monkeys marching around in their natural habitat (albeit modified for your safety). You can spend a good 20 minutes up there just enjoying nature.
After you’re ready to leave you make your hike back down the mountain. Along the way are various signs rattling off information and facts about the Macaque.
The entire experience including the hike up and down the mountain is about an hour long. It’s fun, we’d do it again in a heartbeat, and if you’re in Kyoto, I can’t recommend it enough. This is Japan after all – take in something unique!
Out of pure convenience we’d still opt for Arashiyama instead of the further Jigokudani. That said if you have extra days to kill in Japan Jigokudani may be worth the extra hike.
Jigokudani is a full day trip coming from Tokyo, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. There is plenty of literature on the internet planning that day trip.