Wild Encounters: Exploring the Monkey Forest in Arashiyama

We all know them and probably used to visit them when we were little but now that we are grown we don’t pay them a visit often. I’m not talking about your local Mcdonald’s play area, I’m talking about the zoo. At some point seeing these animals behind cages for the 47th time didn’t cut it. If only you were able to see these majestic animals in their natural habitats. Most wanted to see the spectacle of majestic lions on safari. However I, a cultured individual, have always wanted to see my fellow primates in the wild. So I went to the monkey forest in Arashiyama.

What is so unique about the forest in Arashiyama?

This my friend, is an excellent question and let me tell you all about the crazy forest in Arashiyama. There is a certain forest in Arashiyama that is filled with massive trees, beautiful nature and most importantly, monkeys.

Yes, you heard me right, monkeys. This forest in Arashiyama is no joke, but to be worthy you must ascend its magnificent hill. The climb is about 20 minutes, but do not worry: it’s not difficult whatsoever and is worth every minute of it. You see, the top of this hill is home to about 30 monkeys that will play with each other and interact with you. This may sound a bit dangerous and risky, but do not worry: these monkeys are tame and will not attack you.

What is there to do at the monkey forest?

There are a lot of things to do at the monkey forest, you can do all the normal things you can do at a forest (which admittedly isn’t much) and enjoy the breathtaking spectacle of our fellow primates scratching their butt! When you reach the top of the hill you can see the monkeys in action, you can also enter a building where you can buy food for the monkeys. This building has a fenced section that the monkeys can reach through to pick up the food.

The part where I was a bit disappointed (but I expected it and know why) was that you couldn’t interact with the monkeys yourself. The only interactions you could get was if the monkey would approach you, but this rarely happened because they are far more interested in literally anything else.

The overall experience:

Overall, my experience was really fun, you could feed the monkeys and see them in action & on top of that you got a stunning view at the top of the mountain. The only thing that was a bit lackluster was that you could not interact with them on your own, you had to wait for them to start the interaction. 

I definitely recommend everyone who is in / around Kyoto to pay a visit to the monkey forest in Arashiyama. Just because there are not a lot of monkey forests around the world as far as I know. This makes it a potentially once in a lifetime experience for a lot of people.

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