Can the collective Internet come up with a possible solution, or just crack a bunch of monkey jokes?

Japan is full of diverse wildlife from pigeons to cockroaches, but the most interesting animal has got to be the Japanese macaque. Whether interfering with Japan’s most famous cat or ringing in the new year, these mischievous monkeys are a firm part of Japan and can be found everywhere in the country.

Everywhere, that is, except for a very few locations as discovered by Twitter user @Q_SA_I on a very enlightening poster.

▼ (Click to enlarge and see English translation.)

The text explains that Japanese macaques can be found in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures except for Hokkaido, Ibaraki, and Okinawa.

Hokkaido and Okinawa, aren’t surprising since they are separate islands on the northernmost and southernmost ends of Japan. Plus these places also lack the kind of monkey-nightlife that’d make them want to traverse the tunnels to get there.

Ibaraki, however, is fairly central and not too far away from Tokyo, yet it remains a black hole in terms of monkey population. The sign itself seems to shrug its shoulders with the caption, “For some reason there are no macaques in Ibaraki.”

Of course, you can always trust the Internet to not leave a question unanswered, regardless of whether people actually know the reason or not. Here is just a small chunk of the “theories” out there.

“First, Ibaraki has very few forests, second only to Osaka, which are all isolated. Also there are many threats such as wild dogs.”
“I live in Ibaraki and there are some people here dumb enough to be considered monkeys.”
“Maybe Tsukuba University experimented on them all.”
“They’re just copying human behavior and leaving Ibaraki.”
“They must be hurting for tourism. They can’t even attract monkeys.”
“Maybe they eat monkeys there?”
“There’s too many wild boars around there.”
“They all went to Shibuya for Halloween.”
“There’s no Mon-keys in Ibaraki but lots of Yan-kees!”

There were also many comments suggesting the monkeys were repelled by the smelly fermented soy beans known as natto, which Ibaraki is famous for producing.

Other comments pointed out that macaques have been spotted in Ibaraki from time to time, but isolated sightings aside, it’s probably still safe to say there are no significant populations of these monkeys in the prefecture.

One other twitter user by the handle mya-san claimed to have done research on this very topic and came to a believably simple yet underwhelming answer.

According to a report from the Biodiversity Center of Japan that mya-san linked to, Japanese macaques live in dense forest area with over 70-percent coverage. Ibaraki simply lacks such an environment. As a previous commenter pointed out, Ibaraki has the second least-forested areas next to Osaka. This is supported by the original map which shows Osaka nearly devoid of monkeys as well.

Hopefully this will put to rest all the wild theories of scientific experiments and crazy rumors of monkey-eating people.

However, we can’t ignore the fact there is also an Ibaraki City in Osaka Prefecture, and there are also no monkeys there. Now — try to stay with me on this — if we take the first and last syllables of both “Ibaraki” city and prefecture, what do we get?

“Eek, eek.”

Clearly, the monkeys are trying to tell us something in their own language using their astute knowledge of Japanese administrative districts. I just hope we crack this monkey code before it’s too late, and the monkey business truly begins….

Source: Twitter/@Q_SA_I, Hachima Kiko, Biodiversity Center of Japan
Images: SoraNews24