Japan – Oita’s Monkey Mountain
No holiday is complete without a spot of monkeying around.
And Japan is no exception – thanks to Oita’s Monkey Mountain.
Tourism in the area is associated with Mount Takasaki, where locals and travellers alike enjoy watching wild Japanese monkeys – Japanese macaques – at close quarters.
They are found on the helmet-shaped Mt Takasaki at the western end of Oita City, and these friendly creatures are quite happy to let visitors share their everyday lives.
The tourist books will tell you that in spring, cherries come into bloom and monkeys give birth to babies.
In summer, the baby monkeys bathe in water. In autumn, the youngsters will scramble for sweet potatoes.
And in winter, a group of monkeys huddle up together to keep themselves warm in a saru-dango or monkey ball style.
All of which suggests the monkeys are simply there to entertain their human watchers.
But that would be doing these clever little beasts an injustice; the truth is they are, at worst, taking part in a reciprocal relationship. Indeed, it could easily be argued they get the best of the deal – and it’s very much conducted on their terms.
The monkeys get five meals a day; the last of which is sweet potato. The clever animals even know the word for sweet potato and come running for their dinner.
As soon as this final meal is complete, and man’s usefulness to them is done, they disappear off into the mountain. It truly is their domain.
The monkeys even have their own set of hot springs on the opposite side of Takasaki.
Talk about top of the tree!