“Koujima monkey” washing potatoes and eating them, Miyazaki

An observation event was held on Koujima Island in Kushima City, Miyazaki Prefecture, which is known to be home to wild Japanese macaques that wash potatoes with water and eat them as a cultural behavior.

The observation event was held by the Koujima Observatory of the Kyoto University Wildlife Research Center, which studies Japanese macaques on Kaijima Island in Kushima City, Miyazaki Prefecture, and was attended by 17 people from inside and outside the prefecture.



The participants took a boat to Saiwai Island, located 200 meters offshore from Kushima City, and were briefed by Mr. Takafumi Suzumura, a staff member at the observatory, about 90 monkeys living on the island.

The monkeys competed with each other to pick up the sweet potatoes and wash them in seawater that had collected in the surf before eating them.

In 1953, a young monkey began washing away the soil from the sweet potatoes, a behavior that gradually led other monkeys to follow suit, and the practice has been passed down from generation to generation.



This has made the monkeys of Koujima famous worldwide as “monkeys with culture.

On the day of the event, a rare “wheat-washing behavior,” in which monkeys wash wheat as well as potatoes, was observed with great interest by the participants.

A male university student from Tokyo said, “I was surprised that monkeys also behave in this way, and I was impressed that potato washing has been passed down from generation to generation.


【Koujima, Miyazaki prefecture】