By Kristin Armstrong
Title: Encounters of the Wild Kind
Setting: Mountain Roads, Yakushima
Characters: Kristin, Ryan, Wild Monkeys
In Short: During a recent trip to Yakushima, Ryan and Kristin were almost attacked by wild monkeys on two occasions.
The Details: The more memorable of the two encounters occurred while driving a rent-a-car up the windy mountain roads towards Shiratani Unsuikyo (the forest that inspired Princess Mononoke). Along the way, Kristin and Ryan spotted a wild monkey sitting on a guard-rail off to the side of the road. Excited, they parked the car and attempted to get closer to the monkey to take some pictures. Bad idea. Unbeknownst to them at the time, the monkey didn’t like having cameras pointed at it. The perturbed monkey growled suddenly and jumped at the offending photographers! Ryan and Kristin turned tail and ran. They shouldn’t have looked back, but Ryan did. And he noticed that it was still following them. He turned around, stomped on the ground, and tried to make himself look big and intimidating! Thankfully, this did the trick and made the monkey change its course and run back into the forest. That experience alone most likely took at least 10 years off their lives.
Later, their minshuku host told them that they should’ve gotten in the car, closed the windows, and driven away quickly because those monkeys are really dangerous. Curious, Ryan and Kristin asked, “What should we do if we aren’t near our car?” The host exclaimed “もう終わりだ!” because the monkeys can totally outrun humans (they can get up to 40km/hr!) The two nervously laughed, thinking to themselves how lucky they were to get away unharmed.
The next day they encountered more monkeys! With their newly acquired knowledge, they were able to shoot this shaky video from the safety of their car.
Conclusion: While there is a certain allure of capturing a wild animal on flim (most likely stemming from a fascination with Pokemon Snap), one should strive to use caution when engaging in such a quest. Or at the least have a car parked nearby to serve as a mode of escape.
Column Editor: Jacqueline Laibinis
Do you have any crazy, funny, or crazy funny stories from your time in Japan? Send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org