Oita's Monkey Park
Japan has the third most zoos in the world after the US and China. There are no shortage of places to see animals in captivity from a distance, but what about if you want to observe animals running free, without cages or barriers? If you like monkeys, Oita’s unique Mount Takasaki park is the place to go.
Oita’s Mount Takasaki is 628m high and located on Beppu Bay, between Oita City and Beppu. There are buses from Oita Station every 20 minutes or so and the journey takes 15 to 20 minutes. Takasaki is home to over 1,000 Japanese macaque monkeys who run free over the mountain. In the 1950s, the monkeys were a nuisance to the local community, damaging crops and residential property. A smart official used whistles and food to lure the monkeys away from residents to nearby Mount Takasaki. This solved the pest problem, providing a wonderful tourist attraction in the process.
Today, the nature reserve is a wonderful opportunity to see monkeys behaving almost as they would in the wild, albeit with a seemingly complete lack of fear of humans. Less crowded and more off the beaten track than rival monkey parks in Kyoto and Nagano, Mount Takasaki offers an authentic experience. There are monkeys everywhere. They run around, play, and groom each other. Feeding occurs every hour during the park’s opening times with major feeding times twice a day.
Getting into the park will cost you 510 yen. The main park area is about five minutes’ uphill walk from the entrance. If you don’t fancy the walk, for an additional 100 yen you can take the monorail. The monkeys congregate in this area, and it’s adorable to watch them using the playing equipment. Wild monkeys like the macaques in Oita monkey park form troops and it is interesting to observe the group behaviour that occurs here. Mount Takasaki’s monkeys have split themselves into two troops who come down to the main park areas to play and be fed by park wardens twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
During feeding times, the sight of hundreds of monkeys coming down from their various territories in the mountain to the park is a very impressive sight. If you are interested in learning more about the monkeys and their behaviors, as well as the history of the park, helpful staff will give talks, demonstrations, and answer your questions.
Please remember that, even though they are used to the constant presence of humans, Takasaki’s monkeys are wild animals. There are signs reminding tourists not to feed or pet them as well as advising not to make direct eye contact. Please adhere to these rules, for your own safety. Also be mindful of what you are wearing and if you are carrying any food on you - it is not uncommon for monkeys to pick your pockets or even raid your bag in pursuit of your lunch! That being said, it is wonderful to spend time with these beautiful, playful, intelligent experience. Their wildness only makes the experience more special.
- Facility Name
- Oita Pref. Oitashi Kanamemachi
- Information Sources:
- NAVITIME JAPAN