Monday, October 26, 2015

Feeding the Monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Arashiyama is a district in western Kyoto that is easily a day trip. We didn't have an entire day to spend, but couldn't pass up the chance to feed the monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park. Sounds like a unique, touristy thing to do, right?

What we didn't realize was that the monkey park was on top of a small mountain. A moderately steep climb in the high summer humidity was a great compliment to the sake of the night before.

A very discreet sign at the street invites you in to Iwatayama Monkey Park.

Numerous signs like this just inside the entrance made me curious.  How far could it be to the monkeys?
Then we began the hike up.

After hiking quite a ways, we came across this sign. See the red dot at the lower left corner that says "present location"?  After our initial reaction, we sat down for a minute and watched others' reactions. I'm pretty sure if I spent the day at that sign, by the end of it I would know how to say, "You've got to be kidding me!" in Japanese.

At the summit. Finally made it!

A view of the house for feeding the monkeys at the summit.

They ~170 monkeys that live on the mountain are totally tame, as long as you don't make eye contact, which is interpreted as a challenge.

But happily, they will make eye contact with the camera.

Outside the feeding house, scoping out the food situation.

This is the way the feeding works - you are in the cage!

You purchase small bags of bananas, apples, or nuts for a couple hundred yen, and the monkeys take the food right out of your hand.

Breeding season is twice a year, which means plenty of babies all the same age.

The adults will happily steal from the babies.

In the trees and all around the peak, monkeys live.

Monkey on the ground.

Monkey in a tree!

Bring your camera and your hiking shoes - Iwatayama Monkey park is totally worth the trip!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kobe Harborland Waterfront at Night

A train ride and a 15 minute walk brings you to the Kobe Harborland waterfront from anywhere in Kobe, Japan. A beautifully lit boardwalk runs along multiple levels of shops and restaurants. We opted for some Kobe beef and vegetable grill on the upper level near the Ferris wheel. With so many available options, you could easily spend weeks eating dinner here. It's a great way to spend the early evening, with impressive visual displays in every direction. Here are some shots of the nighttime scenery. 

The view across to the Port of Kobe.

Dinner cruise?

Oriental Hotel across the water.

The boardwalk.

I believe it was about 900 yen for a ride.

Boardwalk from the upper level.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

You Can't Not Look at the Signs in Japan

One of the most foreign and interesting aspects of Japan to me is the signage.  In the city, in every direction there are displays that demand your attention.  Because not everything is in English, and if is something important you're looking for (directions, station names, etc.) can be fairly subtle, I found myself hyper-attentive to all of the interesting signage.

In addition to being fascinating to decipher, I also found the juxtaposition of the fun, cartoon-meets-game aspects with the overall serious politeness of the culture highly engrossing.  Here are a few standouts.

First thing off the plane, this greeted me as I sought relief.

Cubic subway attendant in Osaka. The real ones were much more round.

Boss coffee and music at sunset is so good it makes Tommy Lee cry.

I'm not sure what this is, but I'm sure recycling is fun!

Dandy House! We looked this up, and I'm pretty sure it was, of all things, a hair salon.

Next time I'm in Kobe, I'm getting some Powder, Snow, Milk, or all three.

I think this is a warning sign for dangerous hogs nearby.  Atop Mt. Maya, in Kobe.

For such a clean place, I was surprised how much graffiti was apparently a problem (not that I saw any). 

Coolest sign for a lounge.

No drones at the Golden Pavilion!  Makes me think this must have been a problem before.

"Please put phones on 'manner mode' and refrain from speaking on phones."  On the subways everywhere.

I don't know what Goo is, but I need some.

The Japanese are very frank.

Friendly otter telling you about his feeding time and talk at the Osaka Aquarium.

A nice little ex-pat bar in Kobe.  Sign in the elevator.  All good bars are small and above street level.

I'm not sure.  Boy band?

Giant robot sculpture advertisement on the subway.  Nothing strange about that.

Of course they do!