{Japan: Explore} Takasakiyama Monkey Park, Oita

Takasakiyama Monkey Park

In a Nutshell:

  • Who: L and M
  • When: May 24, 2013
  • Where: Takasakiyama Monkey Park in Oita, 15 minute bus ride from Beppu Station
  • Why: Because I absolutely love monkeys!  And I went to another monkey park when I was little and wanted M to see one too.
  • *Notes: Takasakiyama Bus Stop, 500 JPY (Yen) Entry Fee (can get coupon at Beppu Station for 20% off), next to Umitamago Aquarium, (Monkeys, Monkeys and MORE Monkeys!

In the summer of 1984 I went to Japan for the first time.  My father is originally from Miyazaki, Kyushu and we spent nearly two weeks there.  Since I was only 8 years old at the time, I don’t remember much of the trip in great detail.  But one memory that is clear is a trip we took to a nearby mountainside where the monkeys were allowed to roam free all around us.  I am a total monkey fan, when I was younger I never asked for a dog or cat like normal kids —- I wanted a pet monkey!  So it was like heaven to be surrounded by monkeys, big and small, playing and squabbling and engaged in all kinds of antics.

Fast forward to 2012.  When we first decided that we were going to Japan in the spring, a big motivator was seeing the cities that M’s family had come from.  One of which happened to be Kumamoto.  He told me that we probably had time to check out one more city in the region, and upon doing some research on Beppu I saw that Takasakiyama was close by.  That was enough to sell me!  Well, that, and the chance to stay at the Suginoi Hotel and experience their fabulous onsen.

Getting to Takasakiyama from Beppu Station was super-easy thanks to the Tourist Information Center there.  On the day that we went, there was an English-speaking woman who helped us and she not only kindly instructed us on how to get to Takasakiyama, but also gave us a 20% off coupon on the entry fee.   Very nice!

After throwing our suitcases into a locker at the station (cost: 600 JPY), we hopped onto bus #60 heading for Oita.  A short bus ride later (15 minutes) we were at our destination (Takasakiyama stop).  We debated for a couple of minutes whether to go to the nearby Umitamago Aquarium in addition to Takasakiyama, but decided against it due to time constraints.

Soon after crossing the bridge to the other side of the street, we were greeted by this helpful and informative sign:

Takasakiyama sign

Ah, let me put 8 years of Japanese school to use and translate this sign for you!

  1. Don’t touch the monkey!
  2. Don’t stare into the monkey’s eyes!
  3. Do not chase the monkey while shouting WaaKyaaa!
  4. Do not tease the monkey, especially with napkins and handkerchiefs!
  5. Do not feed the monkey!

I find #3 to be especially interesting.  I never knew yelling out WaaKyaaa could be so scary.  Maybe I’ll try it on M next time he leaves his dirty socks lying around.  If that doesn’t remind him to pick them up in the future, I’m sure nothing will.

Upon buying our tickets, we paid an extra 100 Yen to ride the monorail directly to the upper area where the monkeys are congregated.  I have read on other blogs that in lieu of the monorail, one only needs to walk a rather short path to get to this upper area.  But like I mentioned before we had a time constraint to consider *cough, cough*.  Not to mention that with our 20% coupon we had saved 100 Yen on our entry fee, thus, riding the monorail was practically free!

tram tracks at Mt. Takasaki

Upon disembarking from the monorail, we were greeted by hoards of monkeys!  They were all so cute, especially, the babies and yes, I did harbor some naughty thoughts about hiding one under my shirt to take home!  But, alas, that would have violated Rule #1 (Don’t touch the monkey!) and the last thing Mark and I needed was to get thrown out of Japan so early on in our trip.

Now, here’s the funny thing: I could have sworn that we took loads of monkey pictures during our visit to Takasakiyama but as it turns out, we only took 4!  And that one I just showed you is one of them!  I guess we were too busy just watching the monkeys with our own eyes to capture it on film.  I know I’ll always have my memories of them, but I wanted to share them everyone too!

So, let’s do a 3,2,1 and count down the rest of the pictures: 3!

monkeys

Oh, this next one was an ornery little fellow!  He tried to steal the water bottle out of my hand!  And when I caught him he stared back at me very defiantly.  But, of course, I turned away out of respect for Rule #2.  2!

Last one!  I like this one since it shows three monkeys together and reminds me of the Three Wise Monkeys: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.  1!

After riding the monorail back down, we made our way over to the bus stop to catch a bus headed back to Beppu Station.  And with that, we were on our way to Kumamoto!