Hidden at the top of Mount Arashiyama is a crazy little place called Iwatayama. A monkey park at the top of the mountain, with beautiful views over Kyoto and monkeys roaming freely around the mountain top. Looking over the Oi River it is inhabited by over 170 macaque monkeys.
The hike to the monkey forest is on quite an incline and can get quite steep at times. It is approximately a 10-15 minute walk from the ticket booth to the park, but honestly it felt like forever! We were visiting on a very hot and humid day which might have made it a little more difficult, but we were so sweaty by the time we got to the top!
Once you get the top there are two different areas. An outside area where you can walk around amongst the monkeys and appreciate the amazing views over Kyoto, and an inside area where you can feed the monkeys. The attendants will show you into a hut with wire fences covering the windows where you can buy food and feed the monkeys through the wire. You can choose between bags of apple slices, banana slices, biscuits and peanuts for a very cheap 100 Yen. The monkeys know that there is food coming from the hut, and will often jump up to the window to have a snack!
There were so many baby monkeys around during our visit, which was so exciting. They were so naughty, playing together and annoying each other! It is important to remember that even though there are attendants at the park, these monkeys are wild animals and can become aggressive if they feel threatened or intimidated. Keep a respectful distance from them, especially outside on the viewing platform and around any mothers carrying babies as these can often become the most aggressive if they feel there is a threat towards their baby.
Iwatayama is open from 9am – 5pm most of the year (closing at 4pm from November to March). Admission is 550 Yen. If you’re arriving on a JR train you will need to get off at JR Saga Arashiyama.
Iwatayama Monkey Park
8 Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Nishikyo Ward
Kyoto 616-0007, Japan