Takasakiyama Monkey Park (高崎山自然動物園, Takasakiyama Shizen Dōbutsuen) is a popular monkey reserve at the base of Mount Takasaki, a 628 meter high mountain along the coast between Beppu and Oita City. The mountain is home to some 1500 wild Japanese macaques that roam freely around its steep, forested slopes. Park visitors can get close to the monkeys as they are fed, and watch them as they run around, play or just sit in the sun and groom each other.
Mount Takasaki's monkeys are divided into two separate troops of approximately 700 to 800 individuals each, making them some of the world's largest monkey troops. The troops take turns coming down to the monkey park, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During their stay at the park, the monkeys get fed by the wardens and spend their time playing and resting while appearing almost oblivious to the human visitors. However, although they seem tame, the monkeys should not be touched or fed, and eye contact should be avoided.
The park was opened in 1952 as both a tourist attraction and as a way to manage the local monkey population which increasingly came into conflict with the surrounding residents and farmers. As a result, the monkeys are now fed regularly by the park wardens in order to keep them off the fields and residential districts. The feedings are a popular time at the park, when the monkeys can be seen scurrying about, competing for the food. Smaller feeding are done hourly, while larger feedings are performed a few times per day.
Most visitors to the monkey park will arrive by car or bus at the large parking lot next to the Umitamago Aquarium. From there, a pedestrian bridge crosses the main road towards the monkey park whose entrance gate can be reached in a five minute walk from the parking lot. From there, it is another five minute walk uphill to the park's main area where most of the monkeys gather. It is possible to skip the latter uphill walk by taking a short monorail ride (100 yen round trip).