Asahiyama zoo redpanda
Photo Credit MikiYoshihito CC.BY.2.0

Asahiyama Zoo – Asahikawa

As a child, going to the zoo during summer holidays was always an exciting event. Then, I grew up and this exciting activity was not so likeable any more. Now, I am a mum and I suppose zoo trips are going to be a regular event until my little bub grows up. Recently, we were invited by some of the fellow parents for a trip to the Asahiyama zoo in Asahikawa. The Asahiyama zoo the most famous zoo in Hokkaido. I heard a lot about the Asahiyama zoo and I was keen on revisiting my favourite childhood venture. Its popularity along with an easy accessibility by public transport, makes it a good day trip destination for mum and dads with kids and kids free adults alike.

On a bright sunny morning, we drove to the Asahiyama zoo from Sapporo. The drive to Asahikawa was quite relaxing. Pleasant scenery and scary tunnels made our drive interesting. It took us 2 hours and 2000 Yen using the toll road to reach our destination. We found plenty of convenience stores and resting stops on the way to refresh ourselves.

Asahiyama Zoo:

At the zoo, we parked at the only paid parking area on the west gate of the zoo. We paid 500 Yen for the spot and later got to know there are plenty of free parking spots available. My dear husband, who is usually responsible for the logistics and driving did  not check the parking information beforehand. Anyway, here is the information , so that you don’t end up shelling extra 500 yen like us.

Asahiyama zoo

As soon as I entered, the first impression of the zoo was that it’s massive. The Asahiyama zoo hosts more than 120 species of animals and birds  such as polar bears, endangered snow leopards, lemurs, red pandas, caribbean flamingos and many more. You can find animals from all seven continents here. The zoo believes in creating an environment that will help the animals to behave in their natural way. They also run breeding programs and the newest members are a Harbour seal pup an Abyssinian colobus infant and Red panda cub.

Penguin Asahiyama

Photo Credit saname777

There are more than 25 exhibits, and my favourite ones were the penguin house with an interesting aquarium tunnel, the seal house and the polar bear pavilion. It was fun to see the polar bears posing for the cameras (trust me they were), penguins showing off their swimming skills and the seals were getting on with something mischievous. The zoo also has two children pasture exhibits where kids can closely but safely interact with sheep, pony, rabbits, chinchillas and other small animals.

Polar Bear Asahiyama

Tiger Asahiyama

I recommend visiting your favourite animal’s exhibit at their Mogu-Mogu time. Mogu-Mogu (もぐもぐ) in Japanese means chewing something mouthful. You can find the meal schedule at various message boards inside the zoo or here . It’s best to reach the zoo early in the morning, and plan your day as per the mogu mogu schedule. The meal time for all the animals are quite segregated, so you can watch more animals munching down their favourite food.

What to eat and shop?

There are a number of cafes and restaurants for your mogu mogu too. You can eat from a selection of available dishes including the famous Asahikawa shoyu ramen and Hokkaido soft-serve ice cream.

coffee shop asahiyama

Souvenir and gift shops are available at various locations to buy remembrances from the zoo.

What Facilities are available?

Nursing rooms for mums with infants and toddlers, coin lockers for storing your valuables, wheelchairs,  ATM and free shuttle bus for travelling inside the zoo.

How to reach Asahiyama zoo?

Here is the information to access the zoo.

If you are planning to do a day trip from Sapporo using public transport, then book a return ticket on the special limited Asahiyama Zoo Train. Started in 2007, this train is designed by Hiroshi Abe, an Asahiyama zoo keeper. The train is covered with colourful drawings of various animals and filled with all sizes of stuffed toys which your kids and you would definitely love. You can either book your ticket online (just click on the pink dot, site is in Japanese) or at the JR ticket counter in Sapporo station.

Asahiyama train

Asahiyama Zoo timings:

Summer: 9:30 am – 5:15 pm

Winter: 10:30 am – 3:30 pm

Every year in summer and winter, for a specific period, the zoo remains open in the night until 9:00 pm. This will give you an opportunity to see the night time behaviour of the animals. Please check the website for the details on night zoo timing.

Fees:

Adult– 820 Yen, children below 12 years free.

Tips:

  1. I recommend sparing at least 5-6 hours of your time to enjoy the zoo completely.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing in summer and in winter put on layers to keep you warm.
  3. One of the most famous events at the Asahiyama zoo is the Penguin walk in winter. Every winter from December end to middle of March, twice a day the penguins at the zoo go out for a walk. So if you plan to visit the zoo in winter, then don’t miss the penguin walk.

Penguin March Asahikawa

I don’t want to be a grinch, but if you really want to have a look at what the zoo looks like, then check this virtual reality link out.

What else can you do?

After you spend your day at the zoo, enjoy your evening by eating the Asahikawa ramen. Hachiya, Yoshino and Ramenyatenkin are some of the popular ramen shops in Asahikawa. However, being a Sapporian, I say that Sapporo’s miso ramen is the best ramen ever.

If you are driving, you can also make a side trip to Biei and Furano from Asahikawa.

The Asahiyama zoo is a well maintained zoo. The animals were much happier than what I experienced at the Maruyama zoo in Sapporo. Let me know which is your favourite zoo or any other thought by commenting below.

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤❤❤

 

 

 

 

 

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