Don’t miss the Iwatayama Monkey Park when you visit Kyoto. Break up your day of visiting temples by playing with monkeys on their home turf!
Have you ever wanted to hang out with 100 monkeys? Go to Kyoto and you can! This is your complete guide for what to expect when visiting the Iwatayama Monkey Park in Kyoto, Japan.
The Monkey Park is one of several reasons tourists visit the Arashiyama district. There are also beautiful shrines and temples, and the iconic Sagano Bamboo Forest. When you imagine Japan, this area is what may come to mind! You will feel the history of the area as you walk through these streets, with rickshaws taking tourists up and down the road and ancient compounds on every corner.
With so many reasons to visit the area, it wasn’t until our third trip that we made it to the monkeys. If we had known how convenient the park was, we would have come every time!
They welcomed some new babies this summer, per their blog!
Entrance to Monkey Park
Once you cross the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, the entrance for the monkey park will be immediately to your right. If you follow the road to the left, you will see a few hourly parking lots on the right side of the street (see map)
The price for entrance is ¥550 per adult and ¥250 for kids ages 4-15. You walk through the gate, up a mostly paved incline (there are some stairs). I carried Jeannie (2 y.o.) the whole way, mostly because she was tired. I think that she would have been able to hike it. The whole walk took just 20 minutes.
Keep an eye out for monkeys from the time you enter the trail. We didn’t see any there, but this is their home so they roam around the whole mountain.
When you get near the top, there is a small park. This is a great place to take a break. The kids had a lot of fun going down the long slide (you’ll get some air!) and swinging.
I knew we were going to see monkeys, but it was still surprising to see so many wandering around us. They play, climb, swim, fight, feed and pick fleas off of each other right next to you!
The monkeys here are Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys. They are known to be very intelligent and enjoy soaking in hot springs. There are over 100 monkeys here!
Remember: Do not look the monkeys in the eyes!
You are not allowed to look into the monkeys’ eyes – they consider it aggressive and may attack you. Also, don’t approach them. Remember you are a guest in their home!
There is a building that sells food to feed the monkeys. It also has a bathroom and a heater if you are there during the winter, like we were! Three walls have bars where the monkeys climb up and wait for you to feed them. You can either open your hand flat or set it on the table. We fed some baby monkeys that were clinging to their mothers; they were really cute!
You’re not supposed to bring your own food, so make sure you bring yen to buy some. It was ¥100 for a bag of apples or peanuts.
There are times each day when they put on a feeding show. They encouraged everyone to gather around outside, turned on some fast-paced music and a man walked briskly around throwing food while monkeys scurried around to get it all. It ended with the biggest monkey in the middle on a platform enjoying the rest of the bucket of food!
The kids really loved the monkey park. After seeing so many temples and shrines and other tourist attractions, it was nice to do something that they appreciated and took part in. They hiked, played at the playground and could have fed and watched the monkeys all day!
Plan your trip!
I think the minimum amount of time you would need to visit the monkey park is 90 minutes. This is a great way to break up your day in Kyoto. Visiting the Sagano Bamboo Forest and visiting the monkey park are our kids’ favorite things in Kyoto.
There are a lot of tourists in the area, so remember that when you plan your trip.There might be a lot of traffic/buses on the roads, or a lot of people on the trails.
While you’re in Kyoto, check out the bloody ceilings at Yogen-in Temple!