Arashiyama: Monkey Mountain North of Kyoto

Japanese Macaque monkey at Arashiyama, near Kyoto, Japan

These guys were so cool. After a 20 minute hike to the top of this small mountain which overlooks Arashiyama and Kyoto (and is higher than the Kyoto tower, so it offers quite a view), you reach this plateau which is just COVERED in monkeys; like pigeons in a city park. Even though the monkeys seem pretty chill for the most part, the occasional scuffle in the sand and their howling screeches, really remind you that they are very wild animals, with sharp teeth. I was getting pretty close to them for some shots, so I comforted myself by reasoning that if one did charge me, I felt reasonably confident that I could give it a good kick. Also, although the official species name is Macaque, Japanese for a long time simply referred to it as ‘saru’ (さる). Literally: monkey, since it is the dominant species in the archipelago. Although, many now use ‘nihonzaru’ (日本ざる)or ‘Japanese monkey’ to refer to it for the sake of specificity.

Also, Japanese language fun fact: many ‘s’ words in japanese (ex: sushi, saru) adopt a ‘z’ sound, when a modifying adjective is placed in front of them (ex: makizushi, nihonzaru)

Newfies should note, with some humour, that its name is pronounced (ma-cack).


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