Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monkey Mountain

I have conquered the perils of Monkey Mountain.

Last Saturday, I joined some Nara and Kyoto JETs in climbing Arashiyama, or as I call it, Monkey Mountain.

This mountain in Kyoto is famous for playing host to many feral Macaques. The hike up the mountain was pretty easy. There were only a few hazards. Because it was a bit misty, the rock steps and ramps were a little slippery. We cautiously made our way up Arashiyama.

As we climbed, we came across many signs warning us of the dangers of Monkey Mountain:

1. Do not feed the monkeys

2. Do not look the monkeys in the eyes

3. Do not touch the monkeys

Yeah...lots of "do not's."

We were were about halfway up the mountain and STILL hadn't seen any monkeys. We all began to think this was a waste of time. About 3/4 up the mountain, we suddenly heard some horrific howls from within the forest. We looked around, and saw 3 macaques violently chasing each other into the brush. Now, we got the feeling we were surrounded...

We finally reached a clearing. Lo and behold, there were monkeys! Lots of them! There were two park rangers to ensure none of us did anything stupid. Safety is what THEY call it. Rule #2 was difficult to follow. All the monkeys stare into your eyes. I did my best to look away but then this happened:

There was another clearing a little farther up the mountain with more monkeys. At this clearing, one daring baby monkey tried to steal my umbrella. I promptly yelled, "This cost me 1000 yen!" The monkey ran away. Sometimes a little human rage is good for negotiation.

We ended the night by walking through an illuminated bamboo forest. It was very crowded, but absolutely beautiful.

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