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Asahiyama Zoo

Take a front-row seat to all the animal action at this interactive zoo.

If the word “zoo” makes you think of captive animals put on display, a visit to Asahiyama Zoo will completely challenge this notion. Thanks to its unparalleled behavior exhibits — each set in a natural habitat in close proximity to viewers – nearly 1.6 million annual visitors from across Japan and abroad come to see animals do their thing in an environment that’s as close to home as possible.

Located 20 kilometers outside of Asahikawa City, this 37.5-acre modest zoological park is home to 640 animals representing 120 species, including the preservation of endangered wildlife.

Initially opened in 1967, this northernmost zoo of Japan was in danger of closing due to a depopulated area and severe temperatures in both winter and summer. However, its incredible turnaround as the second most-visited zoo in the country (neck and neck with the venerable Ueno Zoo in Tokyo) is accredited to the former facility’s director Masao Kosuge, who turned the animal enclosures into interactive exhibits.

Asahiyama Zoo

Asahiyama Zoo showcases these extraordinary living and breathing beings in an enriching and entertaining environment.

This practice which defies traditional zoo-keeping is technically called “behavioral enrichment” and at Asahiyama Zoo, the end result is front-row access to polar bears feeding during “Mogu Mogu (Chewing) Time,” penguins soaring underwater through transparent tunnels, and spotted seals torpedoing through cylinder-shaped tanks. Aside from the daily feedings and care givings, visitors can observe animals mating and raising their young in naturalistic enclosures – most notably, the scurrying tribe of primates at Monkey Mountain.

Another highlight is a suspension bridge situated above a walkway where red pandas leisurely stroll right above visitors heads from a worms-eye view. During the winter season, the Penguin Parade, held twice daily, will make you go “aww” as these tuxedo-wearing birds waddle their way through the crowds.

While many of the exhibits boost handmade signs and may initially appear low-budget, the creativity exhibited by the zookeepers has done away with the days when animals were exhibited like museum artifacts. A fantastic experience for all ages.

How To Get There


11 Higashiasahikawachō Kuranuma, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaidō 078-8205, Japan

By train

The JR Hokkaido Railway Company operates a round-trip train service (Ltd. Exp. Asahiyama Zoo Train) once a day from Sapporo to Asahikawa Station. All cars are reserved seating.

By bus

From Asahikawa Station, take the Asahikawa Denkikidou Bus to Asahiyama Zoo (approx. 40 minutes one-way). If departing from Asahikawa Airport, take the bus route heading directly to Asahiyama Zoo (approx. 35 minutes) via the passenger bus terminal. This bus line runs infrequently, so check the timetable before choosing this option.

Where To Stay

Hotel WBF Grande Asahikawa
  • 10-3-3 Miyashitadori (1-17-Chome), Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido, 070-0030 Japan
  • ¥18,050 - ¥28,975
  • 4.51/5 (779 reviews)
  • 9.7 km
9C Hotel Asahikawa
  • 1-9 1-Jo Dori (1-17-Chome), Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido, 070-0031 Japan
  • ¥10,100 - ¥11,000
  • 4.06/5 (72 reviews)
  • 9.7 km
Hotel Tetora Asahikawa Ekimae
  • 1-9-1 1-Jo Dori (1-17-Chome), Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido, 070-0031 Japan
  • ¥14,400 - ¥16,800
  • 3.25/5 (185 reviews)
  • 9.8 km
Art Hotel Asahikawa
  • 7-6-29-2 7-Jo Dori (1-17-Chome), Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido, 070-0037 Japan
  • ¥15,120 - ¥88,362
  • 4.01/5 (2,632 reviews)
  • 9.8 km
Asahikawa Sun Hotel
  • 7-8 2-Jo Dori (1-17-Chome), Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido, 070-0032 Japan
  • ¥13,000 - ¥23,000
  • 4/5 (1,376 reviews)
  • 9.9 km

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