Monday, April 12, 2010

Monkeys Observe Humans Inside Cages and Other Adventures...


Must fuel my monkey fixation.

So last week in Kyoto when I learned of monkeys nearby, there was no question we had to seek them out. We headed to Arashiyama, where atop a small mountain overlooking the city, monkeys roam and look curiously at tourists.

We walked 20 minutes up a mountain path to the Arashiyama Monkey Park, cautiously stepping over monkeys on the trail playing and sunning themselves until we reached the main observation area.
In an amazing turn of events, we humans stood in a cage, sheltered and confined to observe the monkeys while they were free on the outside gazing in at us. It was a strange reversal of perspective, as you can imagine.
Inside the cage we shared a snack of bananas, peanuts, and apples with them. This very clever fellow discovered that he could stockpile peanuts in his mouth.
From inside the cage, I kept trying to get a meaningful photograph that somehow represented our strange human and monkey connection under these bizarre circumstances.

I kept imagining something inspirational like the beautiful and famous Sistine Chapel painting of God and Man reaching for each other.

Instead I got lots of hairy monkey paw pictures like this...
and a few kind of scary ones like this...
But I finally did capture this ambiguous one. Is the monkey offering or taking the peanut?
The Arashiyama monkeys were more aggressive than previous ones we've encountered, which is why we had to stand inside the cage to feed them.

We were also warned not to make eye-contact with them. But I did accidentally find myself in a staring showdown with one. I have to tell you it reminded me of one of those awful Jerry Springer confrontations.

The monkey glared at me directly, expression hardened, chest puffed out, and moved towards me like, "What are you looking at?"

Strangely, I felt my own defiant swell of pride. I eventually did look away, but I have to admit that for a moment I did not want to back down...


Have you ever found yourself in an unlikely confrontation? Perhaps with a child, pizza delivery person, or another unusual participant? Do tell...

6 comments:

dina@vagabondquest.com said...

Very entertaining story :D I like the Sistine style picture a lot, even though it doesn't look too god-ly. Hostile monkeys so you can't stare at, eh, so the guests are not permitted to walk around outside? I need to visit this place next time I go to Kyoto again, I want to see the red face one.
Btw, I always love to see a little or baby monkey holding on to their mom's body. Especially how the baby stay still when the mother is jumping around.

Oh, thanks to visit my tail-trick monkey parenting picture :D

Rambles with Reese said...

Oh Mary! I love this post! It's just too hilarious! I can imagine you staring down the monkey. Japan sounds so interesting.

And I definitely can relate to you, I often have stare downs here...just don't tell my hubby. In Italy, people stare all the time, especially in the south. I don't think they ever learned the 3 second rule. If you ever visit here, you'll know what I'm talking about. I remember a friend from Canada visiting and she got so tired of the staring and she was only here for less than 2 weeks.

Carrie Stuart said...

I LOVE this post! It's my favorite monkey post yet. Thanks for letting me fuel my monkey fixation vicariously!

Becca Runs Sometimes said...

Oh my gosh. This post represents my 2 greatest fears, monkeys and being in a cage :) You're very brave. I think my heart was racing when I looked at these pics, but they are really amazing shots! I love the one of the monkey offering you a peanut. Amazing creatures.

Fly Girl said...

Add me to all the favorite posts fans. Love this. THe pix are really revealing, those paws look like they could grab and pull you through the cage. I can't believe you had a staring match! I'd be afraid of the monkey trying to pounce on me, through the cage. I'm not confrontational but I am bossy. Once I got into a silly arguement with a homeless man at the shelter I volunteered at. He was delusional and I just had to set him straight. I couldn't back down even though I knew he was living in another reality. Needless to say, they took me off intake and put me on serving lunch!

Meliha said...

We once visited an island area near Koh Phi Phi in Thailand that I think is called Monkey Island. We were told not to touch them and of course, one jumped onto the boat and then proceeded to poop on my sunglasses...EW!

--Meliha
http://straddling-continents-cultures.blogspot.com/

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