Look, but don't stare! Hanging out with Kyoto's macaques
Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, have earned celebrity status for their wintery antics.
When the cold weather hits, the adorable red-faced primates love nothing more than to warm up with a dip in the hot springs, an incredible photo op what with all that snow and the ice that forms on their fur.
"If traveling to the western suburbs of Kyoto, you must visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park on the slopes of Mount Arashiyama, where you can spend a good part of the day just hanging out with the monkeys and enjoying the view of Arashiyama and Kyoto," says Swinden.
"After hiking for 30 minutes up the slopes of Mount Arashiyama, you will come to an area where the 170 or so monkeys run free and you can buy food to feed them. While feeding the monkeys, the humans are in the cage and the monkeys are on the outside."
The park is located on the bank of the Oi River, which flows through the Arashiyama area. It's inhabited by a troop of more than 150 wild monkeys.
After feeding the monkeys, Swinden recommends heading outside to sit and enjoy the view of Kyoto and watch the monkeys.
"Walk further past the feeding building up the hill and you'll find an area where the 'kids' hang out and play," he says.
Swinden says visitors can feed the monkeys through the fence, but aren't allowed to touch them. Also, visitors are directed to not look the monkeys directly in the eye, as they view this as a sign of aggression.