Visiting Arashiyama? Don't Miss the Iwatayama Monkey Park!

If you’ve ever considered traveling to Japan, you have certainly encountered the pictures of a towering bamboo forest. This forest is located in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan and it is definitely gorgeous. It’s a picture-perfect destination for sure, but did you know that there is more to see than just these forests? After you’ve taken in the sights and snapped the perfect selfie, make your way across the large bridge. Check out the gift shops and try some of the locally popular matcha (green tea) flavored ice cream. Follow the signs up the mountain and be ready to have a truly unique experience at the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama.

Just Up the Mountain from Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

This park is located just up the mountain. It only costs 550 yen to enter (roughly $7 AUD) and you can stay for as long as you like. On the way up, there’s even a leaf museum and park for small children. While you won’t need any real hiking gear to head up the path, I’d definitely recommend you wear tennis shoes. The walk takes most visitors fifteen to twenty minutes. If you’re visiting in the summer, there are cool mists to stop at along the way. Just make sure to bring some water to keep you hydrated!

Kyoto Skyline and Native Monkeys

When you reach the top, you’ll be greeted by the brilliant Kyoto skyline and dozens of Japan’s native monkey, the macaque. There are many families of monkeys and you’ll likely be able to see a baby along with the full-grown monkeys. there is a skyline viewing area complete with viewing binoculars and benches. Take a moment to just breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the mountain view. The park is well-known for its beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring and bright red leaves in the fall. As you look down into the trees, you just might spot another monkey.

Up Close and Personal

Next, head into the gift shop. Along with souvenirs and small snacks, this little shop sells food that you can feed the monkeys through a screen in the building. If you don’t want to invest in it personally, you can just go inside and watch other people feed them. It’s a great place to get up close and personal with the monkeys with absolutely no risk to you.

Just Make Sure to Follow the Rules

When you finish up in the gift shop, you can walk a little further up the mountain and observe the free-roaming macaque families. These monkey families are used to people being around, but make sure you follow the rules. There is a roped-in path that you should remain on, and make sure you don’t crouch near the monkeys. They’re not really huge fans of selfies, so remember that. After all, they are still wild animals and, if you scare them, they will react defensively.

For more information on admission, hours, and access, you can visit the park’s English page at

Laura Swallow

Three years ago, I moved from the U.S. to Japan to teach. As I live here, I have the unique opportunity to learn about this amazing country from the inside. Each day, I am amazed at the unique, beautiful culture and heritage of Japan. I’m passionate about sharing these experiences that are truly unique to just one country.