A sprawling sanctuary with one of the largest zoos in Asia, botanical gardens, and an amusement park, established before ... More
Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens
A sprawling sanctuary with one of the largest zoos in Asia, botanical gardens, and an amusement park, established before World War II, the zoo has an impressive pedigree. Traditional favorites include lions, tigers and bears as well as elephants and giraffes. Also popular are a koala exhibit and tiny medaka tropical fish that flew on the space shuttle with one of Japan's astronauts. The recently built Higashiyama Sky Tower, with observation decks and a restaurant 100 meters off the ground, offers a panoramic view of the area.
In all of the zoos that I have visited in my life, this was, by far, the worst in terms of animal habitat, especially when it comes to the big animals. Amazingly small enclosures, resulting in animals that appear to be in poor health, and seem neurotic or lethargic. Put it this way: the Japanese appear to be in love with the Koala bears. Thus, the Koalas had an impressive habitat, and more room than the elephants, which are jammed into small, sparcely vegetated pens the size of a small front yard. Another example: the wolves, which, in the wild, will have a range of 100+ square miles. Here, they were jammed into a tiny area, and were pacing nonstop.
This zoo was great for the younger kids, as there were plety of exciting new animals we dont see often in Britain, but for my older children, they though it was a bit boring. Although there were plenty of animals, they didnt look to happy, which distressed my teenage daughter. The botanical garden were pretty good though, and all of my children enjoyed the pedalos, monorail and ferris wheel. A good day out for the kids and i, but the animals where slightly distressed looking.
Unfortunately, the zoo was more of a cage than a zoo. There were only a few animals who had enough room to enjoy life, while the other animals had to make due with crumby, concrete, claustrauphobic, and unkempt conditions. It was a sad day at the zoo.
The botanical gardens were lovely, but not worth going to since the poor animal conditions darkened the day.
The zoo here is absolutely wretched - if you'd like to see why animal cruelty laws have been enacted in various places around the globe, this is a great place to check out. There are plenty of examples of animals pacing and exhibiting repetative behavior patterns, apparently having gone insane due to the tight confinement. Really sad.
You can skip the zoo entirely if you enter through the Hoshigaoka gate, which I recommend (follow the signs out of the subway station and head straight up through the new shopping center). The gardens are quite nice - cherry blossom groves, a Japanese garden, an English-style garcen, etc. They're also quite large - after two visits, we still haven't seen it all. It's a nice place to wander for an afternoon or to picnic, and at only 500 yen to enter, it's a good value.
This is my second trip to the zoo/park.
The first trip was to scout it out, I went for the 10,000(or something like that) steps walk around the park. There should be lots of green come spring/summer, potentially nice for a quick weekend trip in Japan.
The second trip was with my 3 yr old daughter, she liked seeing all the animals, and the somewhat expensive rides. She really enjoyed herself, and this makes it worth it to me.
I went on a windy sunny Saturday in Feb. so there were -no- crowds to deal with.
The zoo is a bit old, and this shows.
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