Originally published at LetsJapan, August 20, 2009

Monkey celebrates year of freedom

Where is the monkey? That is the question Tokyo residents are asking today on the one year anniversary of the appearance of the lone roamer monkey of Shibuya station.

On August 20, 2008, a macaque monkey dashed into Shibuya train station in Tokyo. Morning rush hour commuters watched as dozens of police officers arrived and began efforts to capture the ape. The monkey hung around long enough for TV news crews to get there and record video of the scampering monkey.

The macaque was adept at eluding its pursuers and escaped the green butterfly nets of the law. Monkey-chase video was broadcast on TV stations worldwide and posted on TV and newspaper websites.Where are you monkey-san?

The monkey has been seen several times in different areas of Tokyo since August 2008. The last reported sighting was in October 2008. Television newscasters were wondering if more than one monkey was roaming the city after reports of a monkey on the loose in Itabashi, Tokyo, in early November 2008.

The monkey claims to be living in an internet cafe and has been posting updates since January 2008 under the name “Makawaii” via the social networking service Twitter. We believe the twittering simian resides in Tokyo. However it is unlikely the macaque is doing the writing. We believe the macaque is paying a cyber cafe resident to type the twitter posts.

Monkey may be horny

The summer high temperatures, often over 30 degrees celsius, and the high humidity of Tokyo should not adversely affect the hardy Japanese macaque. In summer, macaques shed their winter coat for a lighter covering of fur. Macaques have a lifespan of over thirty years.

Taro Suzuki, Chief Profiler of the Missing Monkey Unit of the Association of Primates Special Hunting Team has been profiling the loose macaque. He says these monkeys are innately group oriented. “Without a female companion Makawaii is most certainly craving companionship. No doubt he is a loveless monkey searching for a troop. Therefore the isolation has probably caused the lonley macaque to spank the monkey frequently,” Suzuki said. “The Shibuya monkey is also suffering from dementia,” he added.

Monkey armed and dangerous

Tokyo police believe the wayward ape has turned to crime in order to survive. “It is likely the monkey is now disguising itself as a foreigner in Roppongi and is pushing drugs,” said a police source who declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the subject. “We must catch the monkey soon in order to prevent evil acts, such as late-night naked romping in a park,” the source said.

A blogger in Japan concurs on the monkey’s criminal intent. “I think it will become evident that Noriko Sakai, the singer and actress arrested on suspicion of possessing stimulant drugs, was in fact covering for the monkey”, said Nick at JapanSoc. “Rather than turn him over to the authorities when they discovered his hidden stash of narcotics in Sakai’s home, they fled to a safe treehouse in the mountains before she eventually gave herself up and claimed the drugs as her own,” he said.

Another blogger in Japan believes the monkey is dead meat. This barbecue meat image was provided by Lee at Loneleeplanet.

Other bloggers in Japan contacted by Lets Japan refused to speculate on the macaque’s status citing the risk of a police request for a urine drug screening test.

Sources report police dispatched investigators to Karuizawa and Nikko National Park to search known monkey hangouts in order to get a lead on the lawbreaking ape.

Police believe the monkey is preparing to stroll through Shibuya station again soon. Police sources cite recent activity on the monkey’s credit card. In addition to charges for Shinkansen bullet train “green car” tickets to Karuizawa and Nikko, the macaque had also been shopping in Shibuya. “The monkey purchased underwear at a Shibuya department store and wire cutters at a Shibuya hardware store. We think the monkey plans to hide the cutters in its underpants and cut our green nets if caught,” a source said. “It is a clever monkey,” the source added.

Officials refused comment on rumors a DNA test had been performed on a straw taken from a half-eaten banana found on the ground in front of a Shibuya produce store. Sources say the banana-straw DNA matched the DNA of monkey hair retrieved from Shibuya station in August 2008.

Tokyo police continue to advise against getting close to the monkey. “If you see this masked, drug-dealing, bloomer-wearing, gal-groping, elderly-swindling, hidden-camera-picture-taking fugitive macaque, do not approach it,” warn police.

Police expressed their determination to catch the monkey. “He stole an officer’s hat during the chase last year,” said one officer who spoke on condition of anonymity. “No one steals a cop’s hat and gets away with it. Especially a monkey.”

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