Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) continues to threaten human health. Non-human primate infection models of human influenza are desired. To establish an animal infection model with more natural transmission and to determine the pathogenicity of HPAIV isolated from a wild water bird in primates, we administered a Japanese isolate of HPAIV (A/whooper swan/Hokkaido/1/2008, H5N1 clade 22.214.171.124) to rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys, in droplet form, via the intratracheal route. Infection of the lower and upper respiratory tracts and viral shedding were observed in both macaques. Inoculation of rhesus monkeys with higher doses of the isolate resulted in stronger clinical symptoms of influenza. Our results demonstrate that HPAIV isolated from a water bird in Japan is pathogenic in monkeys by experimental inoculation, and provide a new method for HPAIV infection of non-human primate hosts, a good animal model for investigation of HPAIV pathogenicity.