Higashiyama Zoo

Lee, Chris and I decided to make a trip by bycicle out to the Higashiyama Zoo, Botanical Gardens and Sky Tower (all on the same attraction), about 6 kilometers away. The ride to wasn’t so nice, being all uphill, but it was the next ~8 hours of treking around that was going to be the real killer; Lee and I had absolutely no idea what the zoo was going to be like, we expected a small park in fact. On this day I would guess it was around 35℃ with around 50-75% humidity.

If I had to give a quick summary of the zoo I’d say that the zoo is outdated. While it sits on acres and acres of land and there is an unbelievable variety of animals from all around the world, the actual facilities and grounds are visibly outdated, unmaintained and horribly planned out. Polar bears (which enjoy Arctic weather) are outside with no shade from the sun and a cement structure that’s supposed to mimic an iceberg. Their only refuge is a small, green cesspool. The penguins share the same fate, with most of them choosing to bake in the sun on their cement icecap rather than the lukewarm water they’re provided to swim in. Most of the monkeys were locked in a bird cage. The elephant had dirt to play on and barely enough room to stroll around on. The kangaroos (which feed on grass and roots mainly) lived on gravel. Although the Koala exhibition was amazing, with its own climate-controlled building, private caretakers making sure they have fresh leaves to eat and cleaning up their droppings, and even a security guard. It was clear that this was the zoo’s shining attraction. It’s funny though because the Koala spends most of its time sitting and eating and generally hates the company of humans.

The sky tower was an amazing contraption. At just over 100 meters, the tower provides an awesome view of the local Nagoya area from the top floor. And that’s about all it does. There is a restaurant at the very top floor and beneath it a viewing area. There’s nothing beneath that except air.

There’s no telling how many kilometers we walked in the zoo, we barely could walk by the time we finished the zoo and the sky tower so we skipped out on the botanical gardens altogether. Then we had to ride bikes back home…

Photos of the zoo are online in the “Higashiyama Zoo” album. All-in-all I recommend the park for its amazing sights. The whole trip ― zoo, sky tower and botanical gardens ― cost only about $5.50 (¥640).