5 Must-See Zoos in Japan
Japan is home to numerous zoos, including zoos with rare animals and lively zoos. Of all the zoos in the country, here are five zoos to consider.
Yokohama Zoological Gardens – Zoorasia is a zoo that features animals in eight zones according to the climate zones/regions of the world. It houses 640 animals from 110 species, including okapi, Asiatic lions, red-shanked douc, and other rare species of animals.
The eight zones, consisting of the Asian Tropical Forest, Subarctic Forest, Oceanian Grassland, Central Asian Highland, Japanese Countryside, Amazon Jungle, African Tropical Rainforest, and African Savannah, reproduce the environments where animals in those regions actually live, including the plants in their habitats. The cultures in each region are also showcased, giving guests a better taste of the unique atmospheres in those regions. When you go around the zoo, you will feel as if you have really gone around the world! The African Savannah zone, a highly realistic environment where herbivores and carnivores live together, was fully opened in April 2015 to make your stay at the zoo more enjoyable. So, go check out Zoorasia!
Admission fees: General (18 years old and above): 800 JPY, High school students: 300 JPY, Elementary/middle school students: 200 JPY
1. Yokohama Zoological Gardens - Zoorasia (Kanagawa)
Established in 1882, Ueno Zoo is the first zoo to open in Japan, and it currently boasts of having the highest number of guests among all zoos in the country. This zoo takes care of 3,000 animals from about 400 species inside a vast area that spans 14.2 hectares. It is divided into two blocks – the East Area and the West Area – and you can go around the zoo by riding on the monorail that has a cute exterior. The East Area is made up such sections as Japan’s famous Giant Panda Village, Japanese Animals, Gorilla and Tiger Forest, Elephant Forest, and Polar Bear and Seal Ocean. Meanwhile, the West Area is home to the Small Mammal House that showcases small animals, the Amphibious Reptile House that feels like a jungle, and the Aye-aye Forest that can only be seen in Japan. Here, you can see the three most endangered mammals in the world, namely the giant pandas, okapis and pigmy hippopotamuses!
For those who want to leisurely tour the zoo, we suggest using the multi-language app for the zoo guide. So when you’re sightseeing in Tokyo, how about dropping by this zoo?
Entrance fee: Adult: 600 JPY, Senior citizens above 65 years old: 300 JPY, Middle school students: 200 JPY
Asahikawa's Asahiyama Zoo, Japan’s northernmost zoo, is attracting the most attention from guests lately. After it recorded an all-time low number of guests in 1996 at just 260,000 people, the animal handlers spearheaded the move to reform this zoo in order to make guests see the vivid movements and life of animals right in front of them. The zoo has gained popularity for its “Active Exhibition” that shows animals freely moving thanks to the construction facilities that draw on the habits and movements of animals. With this, it is now a famous zoo that is visited by huge numbers of guests from faraway places.
From an undersea tunnel, guests get to marvel at penguins swimming happily and polar bears diving in the pool. You can also see snow leopards and amur leopards directly underneath you! Asahiyama Zoo is a place where for the whole year, you can observe animals at close range, something you don’t see every day. If you’re sightseeing in Hokkaido, don’t forget to visit this zoo.
Entrance fees: Adults (high school students and older): 820 JPY, Children (middle school students and younger): Free
3. Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa City (Hokkaido)
Adventure World is a complex theme park with a variety of facilities where a zoo, an aquarium, and an amusement park are put all together in a vast 800,000-sq.m. property. It houses different species of animals, among them are the seven pandas that make this place hugely popular. This complex gained a lot of attention in 2014 with the birth of twin pandas. It is also filled with various tours and attractions inside the park. At the Safari World, where animals from all over the world live in their natural environments, you can see at close range such savage beasts as lions and tigers and grass-eating animals as zebras by riding on the free buses and (paid) tour jeeps. They also have dolphin and whale shows, and guests can see dolphins up close at the Dolphin Petting Pool! Meanwhile, over at the Enjoy World, you can bring your families and play all day with the roller coasters, go-karts and game corners, among other attractions.
Entrance fee (1-day pass): Adults (18 years old and older): 4,100 JPY, Young adults (12-17 years old): 3,300 JPY, Children (4-11 years old): 2,500 JPY and Seniors (65 years old and older): 3,700 JPY Entrance fee (1-day pass) and unlimited rides at the amusement park: Adults (18 years old and older): 5,600 JPY, Young adults (12-17 years old): 4,800 JPY, Children (4-11 years old): 4,000 JPY and Seniors (65 years old and older): 5,200 JPY *Both types of entrance pass include a tour of Marine Live and Safari on the Kenya Tour *The “Entrance Pass and Amusement Park Unlimited Pass” tickets are sold on a limited basis at the WEB Ticket Store
Built in 1915, Tennoji Zoo was the third zoo to open in Japan. It houses 1,000 animals from about 200 species on an 11ha property, making it the largest zoo in the Kansai region. Guests can easily access this zoo as it is located in the city, so it is always bustling with lots of people. The environment and landscape of the habitats of the animals here are reproduced as much as possible, with its “Ecological Exhibition” that showcases how animals live serving as its main attraction. At the Tropical Rain Forest Zone that looks like a national zoo in Thailand is home to Asian elephants, while the African Savannah Zone keeps giraffes, zebras and other herbivores, and lions, spotted hyenas and other carnivores together in one area, thereby giving guests a good look at these dynamic animals. If you like reptiles, then go to the IFAR where the reptiles live. Tennoji Zoo is also the only place in Japan where you can see flightless kiwis, so don’t miss that! Entrance fees: Adults: 500 JPY, Elementary and middle school students: 200 JPY
Japan is a country that has progressive initiatives for building facilities where the active movements of animals can be seen up close and for reproducing the natural habitats of animals in zoos, so it is home to a lot of impressive zoos. Go check them out!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.