Winter in Japan – day 5

Day 5 was spent in Minoo Park, one of Japan’s oldest national parks, in the hills to the north of Osaka city.  This is another location I’ve visited on each previous trip but unlike earlier visits decided to go off the beaten track a little to see more of the extensive forests that surround the main tourist paths to the waterfall.

The path to the waterfall was much quieter than any time I’ve been before and most, but not all, of the vendors that line the 2.8km walk were closed for the winter. 

About 1km into the walk I stopped to take a photo of a huge crow (Japanese jungle crow) which casually settled on a tree no more than 3ft from the path right in front of me when a Japanese gentleman passed and said “that’s my friend”. I kinda smiled and laughed, assuming something had been lost in translation, but sure enough he sat down on a bench and the bird flew over and sat on his knee! 

He had a bag of food which he shared with us to feed to the crow, while explaining that the crow would hide the food as “presents” for the other crows in the trees that didn’t trust humans.  It was fascinating to watch the crow break the food into small pieces then carefully hide them under leaves and beneath branches and roots. 

After spending some time with this lovely gentleman and watching him with his friend, we continued up through the forest towards the waterfall.

With the walk so quiet I was able to set up my small tripod in several locations (which is a first in Minoo) and managed a few long exposures of the falls and the surrounding streams and rivers. (Photos to follow on instagram and Facebook when I return!)

After a relaxing break at the falls, it was back down the hill towards the station in what was expected to be a fairly straight forward stroll downhill…

All of the guidebooks about Osaka will tell you that Minoo has wild monkeys and deer along the route but I’ve never seen either and apparently it’s quite rare to see them, so it was quite a surprise to turn a corner and find a troop of monkeys foraging at the side of the path!

These animals are completely wild and apparently VERY intolerant of humans so it was a huge privilege to get to film and photograph then for a while.

An American, who has lived in Japan for the last 19 years explained that this was extremely rare as normally only solitary male monkeys who have been expelled from the troop venture down to the path.

After taking LOTS of monkey photos it was back down hill to the station and the train to Umeda.

A walk around the HEP 5 entertainment complex and a nice late lunch of noodles, fried chicken and soup was followed by some shopping then a short trip back to Namba and the apartment.

It’ll be an early start tomorrow as it’s Himeji castle day. A location I almost visited in autumn 2015 but didn’t quite manage. Looking forward to finally exploring this world heritage site.

Stay tuned for some photos and updates from this trip! 

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