Japan Day 9

Japan Day 9

IWATAYAMA MONKEY PARK DAY! Today was the day I was waiting for since day 1. It was printed on our itinerary that today we would visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park. After jumping on the train to get to Arashiyama, we tried hard not get side-tracked by the various stalls and ice cream shops that paved the way to the monkey park. After picking up a couple souvenirs (our plan to not get side-tracked got side-tracked), we found a big sign with a monkey pointing to the park – following said monkey finger, we were greeted by a large set of steps that lead to a giant Torii gate. Entering the gate, we embarked on a 20-minute walk up the mountain. We reached a forked intersection that was quite symbolic of working life – take the left fork for a less-steep, and longer journey to get to the monkeys, or take the right fork that was almost a 30 degree incline and get to the monkeys faster. We chose the latter because we’re baller.  After sweating our asses off up the hill, we reached a large wooden house. At the entry of the house, there was a sign, which stated a couple rules. Rule #1, don’t throw things at the monkeys and rule #2, don’t stare at the monkeys directly in the eyes. We shrugged off the rules and entered the house.  Inside, a lovely old lady selling monkey food greeted us. ¥300 later, and we were at an open window covered by what seemed to be chicken wire. This wire was to protect us from the monkeys. After feeding the monkeys, we headed outside to chill with them. After feeling pretty confident around the monkeys, we decided to see how close we could get to them. Big mistake, we found ourselves creeping towards a pair of monkeys eating fleas off each other’s backs when one of them locked their eyes onto us. Forgetting rule #2, we entered into a staring contest with the monkey. After about 5 seconds, we noticed the monkey showing its fangs, and the hair on its back beginning to rise. Luckily, this was caught early by one of the park attendants, and he chased off said monkey off with a broom. Without him there, things could have gotten a little messy. After watching the monkey feeding show that consisted of a guy with a bucket of monkey feed throwing it in tune to circus music and the monkeys going ape shit for all the free food, we headed back down the mountain to explore more of Arashiyama.  We wondered into a breath-taking bamboo forest that would make any photographer cry. It was getting late and we decided to head back to Gion and get some dinner. After walking around aimlessly for about an hour, we stumbled upon an Izakaya  (Japanese drinking den). This was an amazing little place. The walls were plastered with red labels, which we assumed were menu items. After sitting down, a lovely pair of businessmen offered us their bag basket and menu (in Japan, restaurants have plastic baskets you can put your bags and jackets in to keep them clean) as they paid for their bill. We were in a bit of trouble realized the menu they gave us was completely in Japanese. The couple next to use however, saw that we were having trouble with the menu and kindly requested English ones for us. If there was one thing that I noticed, it is how insanely polite and generous the Japanese people are.

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