Monkeying around in Kyoto
A word of warning about Kyoto’s Arashiyama Monkey Park. It offers a fantastic opportunity to see wild monkeys going about their day but it is on top of a steep, anklebuckling mountain.
We stand at its base. My soft, undisciplined legs start to tremble at the journey ahead and for the first time during my winter in Japan, I start to sweat.
“Let’s read the signs,” I implore, between puffs. Did you know the monkeys eat more than 200 types of food from the mountain? I really need the 10 or so “fact breaks” on the way up. A sprightly Japanese woman, who looks to be in her mid 60s, overtakes us. She thrusts herself forward with a might I have not once possessed in my 21 years. I salute her diet, stamina and determination.
Finally we make it through the mossy forest and meet our next challenge: the maple grove. My spirit is waning, but my urge to see pink-bottomed primates remains. I push my unyielding body towards my metaphorical pot of gold: the snow monkeys. Suddenly I can make out the tourists who have passed us long ago and, soon enough, we are passing a cluster of red-faced Germans. Take that! I shed my coat, ignore the screams of my thigh muscles, and put on my game face.
A troupe of 120 monkeys is quite a sight. They scramble around me, eating and scratching while remaining oblivious to my presence. I enter the feeding pen, where the humans are caged and the monkeys roam free. I feed them bananas, peanuts and pears. They are nonchalant about the whole experience.
I don’t think I will ever forget my monkey facts (Did you know snow monkeys can go bald?) or my time eagerly spending yen to cater to their insatiable food whims.
On the descent, we spot a cluster of monkeys in a tree above five motorised scooters. Presumably, the scooters are for the staff.
“Well that’s a bit lazy, isn’t it?” I remark to no one in particular. “It’s such a nice stroll.” Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: firstname.lastname@example.org. Columnists receive a set of men’s botanical skincare products from The Aromatherapy Company including face and body balm, natural soap bar, hair and body wash, face cream and shaving cream. $120.70. More: shop.davidjones.com.au