By Karen Zheng
You can find Arashiyama in around half an hour from central Kyoto, a region with rolling green hills that houses many temples, bamboo forests and a park home to Japanese macaque monkeys.
It is the only native species of monkey in Japan, which is characterized by a colourful coat (ranging from orange to gray) and a red face. They can live in areas up to least 15ºC and are well known for their ability to live further north in the world.
One place to find them is at Arashiyama, where it's a 20 minute walk to the summit – quite tough so I recommend that you rehydrate yourself often.
After the hike, you will encounter a small sitting area that has games for children, and where there are some monkeys that walk among the trees. A little farther up is the main area, which also offers an incredible panoramic view of Kyoto, where monkeys move around so confidently they freely cross between the feet of visitors.
It is a highly recommended place for those who love animals, since you can have a face-to-face interaction with the monkeys. Although it is recommended not to feed them with your own food, the place gives you the option to feed peanuts you can buy on site.
It is very enjoyable – the monkeys seem comfortable in front of the presence of strangers, so do not hide or attack. You can see them swinging through the trees, bathing each other and even see the baby monkeys play. They are very enjoyable and friendly with visitors, although it is recommended not to get too close or climb on one.
It is impossible not to witness the smiles or laughter from both visitors and monkeys alike, under the Kyoto sun. Don't miss out on such a natural, authentic experience in this part of Japan.
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