Dotted in the quiet and poetic picture of the mountain and forest area Arashiyama, there are little animals running and dancing as lighting between trees and rocks, drawing vividly moving lines into the picture. Monkey is considered as the soul animal of Arashiyama area, sending vitality to each branch and leaf of the luxuriant forest. As they are so good at hiding themselves behind foliage, Iwatayama Monkey Park offers visitors a chance to encounter these active friends directly on the mountain top. No shelters, no specific environment, monkey gathers at Iwatayama park with the most primitive appearance, playing in front of your eyes, taking food from your hands and looking faraway to the horizon as you are not here in their world.
Located on the left bank of Oi River tearing the united land of Arashiyama area to flow through, Iwatayama Park calls the presence of more than 120 snow monkeys from nooks and crannies of Arashiyama mountain. It can be said that snow monkey is the speciality of Japan, also called Japanese macaque. If you are thinking about some iconic pictures in which some monkeys are bathing at hot springs in winter with steam covering their red faces, you are right, exactly.To date with the monkeys, you have to overcome a hiking trail leading from the entrance to the Viewing Platform. Even it can force you to walking the sun and sweat profusely on some hot summer day, it will lead you over the most spectacular background of cherry blossom in spring and red colored leaves in the autumn. Along with you, some lovely deer dance joyfully by the trail and hundreds birds sing sweetly over your head.
The Viewing Platform perches on the top of 160 meters over the sea level, featuring a hut with a system of wire fence. Through this fence, you can both feed the monkeys and enjoy the great view of Kyoto city. Under an open blue sky setting ocean of sunshine free and at a close distance, you can watch monkeys scrambling in the tall grass, swinging from a tree branch to an other or running up the mountainside. As food can be bought in the hut, monkeys can enjoy an apple chunks from your hand while hanging themselves on the outside of the cage. It is really funny when we use the word cage cause we are who stay inside the cage and the monkeys are free outside.
Iwatayama park gives tourists some advices that you must not stare into the monkeys’ eyes, touch the monkeys or feed the monkeys outside the hut. It is said that even though monkeys are fed by people, they are wild and not tamed at all. Staring into their eyes can be considered as a sign of threat leading them to be aggressive. Monkeys also feel stress with touching and all of these moves may encourages them to misbehave to people.