Asahikawa: Asahiyama Zoo
Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa
Diving polar bears, waddling penguins and seals that zip thru plastic tubes to evade a thousand camera shutters - Asahiyama Zoo competes with Ueno Zoo in Tokyo for the title Most Popular Zoo in Japan - so don't go expecting peace and solitude. This is a small local zoo which after major refurbishments over the past 5 years has animal displays that allow animals and humans to eyeball eachother. In winter it is particularly popular as the sub-zero temperature make many of the animals more active.
- Polar Bears diving and swimming in a large glass tank so you can watch them up close...
- Penguin walk daily Mid. December to March at 11 am and 2.30 pm - staff rope off a walkway and the penguins take a waddle through the park.
- Seals swimming through plastic tube tunnels while everyone tries to get a photograph.
Asahiyama Zoo is in the suburbs of Asahikawa, Hokkaido's second major city which is 2 hours north of Sapporo.
- By BUS: Chuo Bus has a daily sightseeing bus from Sapporo. It costs Y4,500 adults and Y2,000 kids. Reserve in advance at Chuo Sightseeing Bus Counter, 2F, Sapporo Station Bus Terminal (Near the BIC Camera entrance).
- BY TRAIN: JR Hokkaido have a Asahiyama Zoo Ticket from either Chitose Airport or from Sapporo. It is valid for 4 days. Costs Y7,500 from Chitose (stop over at Sapporo ok) and Y5,500 from Sapporo. This pack includes train, then bus from Asahikawa Station to the zoo and zoo entrance. For Junior High and younger kids: Asahiyama Zoo Access Ticket is Y3,500 from Chitose and Y2,500 - this is train and bus, because zoo entrance is free. Trains from Sapporo are every half hour. Reserved seats cost an extra Y310-Y710 per person, per journey depending on the season.
- SPECIAL ASAHIYAMA ZOO TRAIN: 8.26 am Depart/16.05 Return, daily December to April, decorated cars, animal "hug hug" seats, KIds Play Room. All cars are reserved seats and for a Y510 extra payment per person on the Asahiyama Zo Ticket or Asahiyama Zoo Acccess Ticket (see above) you can reserve seats on this train.
- Travelling independently - best access is by the local bus from Asahikawa Station. Go out of the ticket gates and cross the road, go down the road facing the station on the right. Bus Stop Number 5 in front of the Asahi Building is just on the left. There is usually a crowd of people so easy to find. Buses every 20 minutes. Journey takes about 35 mins. Costs Y400. By taxi will cost about Y3,500.
Asahiyama Zoo is closed between seasons: usually October 22 to November 2 and from April 8 to 27. Check before going.