Visiting Monkey Park Iwatayama in Kyoto, Japan

Visiting Monkey Park Iwatayama in Kyoto, Japan

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Japan has many unique animal experiences like the Asahiyama Zoo in Hokkaido where you can view penguins waddling around right next to you, in Nara, there is a park full of wild deer that will politely bow to you for a biscuit, and even a monkey park and preservation area that sits on top of a beautiful mountain overlooking Kyoto.

Welcome to Monkey Park Iwatayama where, for a very short hike and 550¥, you can visit a mountain that is home to many snow monkeys (also known as Japanese macaques). 

Monkey Park Iwatayama is located in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto. So, along with visiting the monkey park make sure you also visit the nearby bamboo forest and the many shrines and temples in this area!

As you walk along the path to get to Monkey Park Iwatayama you’ll be surrounded by the beauty of the Oi River that flows through the Arashiyama Forest area which is beautiful at sunrise!

Oi River

From there you’ll walk the path to the Monkey Park Iwatayama entrance gate where you will pay your entrance fee and receive some information to read on your adventure to the top.

In my personal opinion, the hike to get to Monkey Park Iwatayama is an easy-moderate hike. It lies along a path that is paved in some areas and dirt in others. It does have some elevation gain but there are numerous benches to sit on and rest as needed – this is especially helpful if hiking during the summer in Japan because it gets super hot!

Rules of Monkey Park Iwatayama

We really enjoyed watching this mother watchfully eye her baby as he played.

Yeah, we know… who likes rules? But we weren’t about to break these for the safety of ourselves and the monkeys! These rules were posted around the monkey park and were provided on the pamphlet we received whenever we paid for our tickets.

1. Don’t stare into the monkey’s eyes. It might seem silly, but most of the time monkeys consider staring at them a threat and might become aggressive.

2. Don’t touch the monkeys. Again, this is not only for the safety of the monkeys but also for your safety as they tend to be a bit territorial, especially when it comes to their babies!

3. Don’t feed the monkeys outside of the hut located in the park. This causes trouble with them approaching visitors and can lead to aggression. But, for 100¥ there are peanuts and apples available for purchase. These treats are located inside the air-conditioned hut that will also allow access to feeding areas. Don’t worry, the monkeys are still free to roam, you are putting yourself in a cage instead! 🙂

Other Important Things to Know About Monkey Park Iwatayama

1. Located 525ft (160m) above sea level This isn’t just a park to view monkeys. It also has an amazing skyline view of Kyoto, you can even see Kyoto Tower in the distance when it isn’t cloudy!

View of Kyoto from Monkey Park Iwatayama

2. As I said before, it is a 20-minute mountain hike that can be a little steep at times so make sure you bring water and comfortable shoes. We didn’t find this hike to be particularly challenging but wouldn’t recommend it to those who have trouble walking at steeper inclines. If you do get tired there are many resting areas along the trail.

Monkey Park Iwatayama
Map from the Monkey Park website

3. As said above, for only 100¥ you can get a cup of food to feed the monkeys inside the air-conditioned hut/resting room area. There are also souvenirs, snacks, and drinks for you to purchase for yourself as well.


4. In the outside area, you are able to get up close to the many monkeys that reside here but just keep in mind that you are not allowed to touch them and it’s best to still keep your distance. There is also a playground area with a slide for kids to enjoy!


Address and Visiting Hours

Address: 〒616-0007 8, Arashiyama Genrokuzan-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi
Click here to get directions by train
Hours: Spring & Summer (3/15-10/31): 9am – 5pm | Winter (11/1-3/14): 9am– 4pm
Cost: Adults: 550¥, Children (4-15yrs): 250¥, Under 4 years: FREE

READ MORE: 5 Days in Kyoto

So was it worth it? We think so! It was touching to visit a place that preserved and protected the home of these amazing monkeys. So what do you think? Would you want to visit Monkey Park Iwatayama?


  • Reply
    October 2, 2016 at 10:13 PM

    It’s great to see somewhere in Asia that has the best interests of the animal at heart. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve visited throughout the continent – whether zoos, so-called sanctuaries or some other such thing – that the welfare of the animal clearly came a very distant second to getting a steady stream of visitors. Nevertheless, these guys look both happy and well cared for and really, Japanese Macaques are incredible. I’ve read somewhere that they have one of the most entrenched “Class systems” in the animal kingdom which is most apparent in winter, when they take to the hot springs. If I recall correctly, there is a single family that is allowed to stay in the water permanently – a position they inherited from their parents – while another class of monkeys stand guard, protecting them and being rewarded by periodic dips in the pool. 90% of the other monkeys are left out out in the cold, like some kind of feudal system. Anyway, I digress. Great post and awesome pictures

    • Reply
      October 3, 2016 at 6:20 PM


      That is what we thought as well. As child I always wanted to visit Thailand in order to fulfill a dream of riding an elephant. Later as an adult I learned about the torture these elephants went through I decided against it. I’m always glad to find places that support sustainability for animals and their habitats as it is something I’m personally very passionate about.

      Those are some extremely interesting facts about the Macaques as well. When we were there we received very little information about them other than the rules that I posted here. I also noticed that there were what appeared to be female alphas, like you were possibly referring to, when I got close to a few babies playing one female came running up extremely angry as I was too close for comfort. The others quickly started to make a defensive noise towards me too until I backed away. Definitely decided to switch camera lenses to not disturb them anymore!

      Thanks so much again Gareth.

  • Reply
    Neha Verma
    October 2, 2016 at 11:33 PM

    Wow, thats interesting, Here in India, most of the hilly regions have lots of monkeys around sites, temples etc. But I didn’t know there’s a park dedicated to monkeys in Japan. My daughter would love it!

    • Reply
      October 3, 2016 at 6:22 PM

      Neha, that is so unique and cool! I would love to visit India someday. You should definitely take your daughter here someday. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 2:23 AM

    Thanks for sharing this post! I was kicking myself for not visiting the park when I was in Kyoto last year, so it is nice to see a bit about your experience! I’ll give it a go if I ever make it back to that beautiful city!

    • Reply
      October 3, 2016 at 4:54 PM

      Lindsay, you definitely need to make it back! It was nice to spend a few hours there then continue on to the bamboo forest or other areas! Kyoto was our favorite city we visited. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 2:43 AM

    Oh wow! I had not known about this monkey park. We went to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park a couple of years ago. The two places look very different! Are the monkey’s in Arashiyama native to this area or have they been introduced?

    • Reply
      October 3, 2016 at 4:53 PM

      We will have to check out Jigokudani on our next trip! Thank you for the information 🙂

      From what we understood, they were native here but over time others have been introduced if their homes had been destroyed.

  • Reply
    Bertaut & Alexis
    October 3, 2016 at 2:14 PM

    Great piece regarding what to expect when visiting The Monkey Park! One problem though with rule one, yours truly would most likely be staring out of curiosity ?

    • Reply
      October 3, 2016 at 4:51 PM

      Thanks guys! You two are the same as me. I was staring at the babies as they were playing and Logan tapped me on the shoulder as one of the female monkeys started running towards me! Motherly instinct right? 😉

  • Reply
    October 6, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    Hey guys! Well-written article. I must say monkeys are some ferocious creatures – playful at times and really annoying at some points. In India, you can find numerous monkeys lingering over trees in the Himalayan side and you must not stare into their eyes. They can snatch things and run away. Happened with me a lot of times.

    • Reply
      October 6, 2016 at 6:08 PM

      Thanks so much Prerna! Completely agree with your above statements. We tried really hard to not let them catch us looking at them for those exact reasons. 🙂

  • Reply
    Toronto Seoulcialitet
    October 7, 2016 at 1:30 AM

    I always kick myself for not visiting Kyoto when I went to Osaka. Now I’m even more disappointed! I had no idea this was so close. What an incredible experience! I love the photos you got, as well. Beautiful little creatures.

    • Reply
      October 9, 2016 at 3:37 PM

      It just means you must return! 🙂 Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2016 at 4:05 PM

    I wish I’d visited the park when I was in Kyoto a few years back! I think it is really great that the park has clearly outlined rules regarding how you should behave around monkeys. Such rules would have been fantastic in Bali, where people were feeding the monkeys and petting them. The monkeys got so aggressive that one even ended up jumping on a baby’s had and began clawing at it. We may not like to listen to rules, but when it comes to wildlife, they are best followed!

    • Reply
      October 9, 2016 at 3:38 PM

      You must go back to see it sometime! I agree that the rules are incredibly important. I don’t blame the monkeys in Bali for becoming hostile towards humans, they probably felt threatened! That’s terrible about the baby though, I hope he/she was okay!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2016 at 7:19 PM

    This is so awesome! We are heading to Japan in January and will be visiting the snow monkeys – but we will be going to the one near Nagano prefecture. We are so excited for this! It seems like such an incredible experience to go and see them in their own territory – the only monkeys I have ever seen in real life have been in zoos.

    • Reply
      October 9, 2016 at 3:39 PM

      I hope you enjoy! We will be looking for your thoughts on the snow monkeys! 🙂

      It was definitely a unique experience and we loved that they were roaming freely rather than in a cage!

  • Reply
    Subhadrika Sen
    October 10, 2016 at 5:59 AM

    This is a very nice place. From your post I can see that you can not only spend sometime with the monkeys but also admire the beauty of nature. It would be great to steal sometime from the busy lives and come pay a visit to this place. The monkey photographs were very cute especially the little ones. In India we have some notorious monkeys in some states are these also naughty ones or very cute ones?

    • Reply
      October 10, 2016 at 12:46 PM

      I definitely agree on that! It was very relaxing and there are a lot of places to sit down if you want to. These ones seemed to ignore us for the most part but probably because there are people that ensure the rules are followed. Otherwise I’m sure they wouldn’t know what personal space means! 😉

  • Reply
    Bethanny Sudibyo
    October 10, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    This super cool! I didn’t know about this place before. There is something similar in Taiwan. I went to a coffee shop in the middle of the park and some monkeys would steal people’s food. So, yeah, these monkeys can be aggressive. Hope you had a good time!

    • Reply
      October 10, 2016 at 12:44 PM

      That’s so funny about them stealing food! Such mischievous little ones. Thank you so much Bethanny, we did!

  • Reply
    Ashley Renne
    October 11, 2016 at 6:56 PM

    Not a big fan of animal attractions, but this one seems fine. At least they aren’t in cages and they have rules in place to protect the monkeys. I like that you included the rules. I went to something similar to this and was sad to see people were not following the rules.

    • Reply
      October 11, 2016 at 8:37 PM

      Ashley, this one was definitely one I felt comfortable visiting. All of the monkeys here were well protected! It is sad when people don’t follow the rules. It ruins it for everyone around!

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