Nagasaki Bio Park
Animals, plants and excessive cuteness at this zoo/botanical garden.
Need a kawaii overload? Spot a capybara taking an onsen bath and a miniature road reserved for guinea pig commuters at the Nagasaki Bio Park in Saikai city.
Established in May 2004, with designs by the late Norio Kondo and construction by Nihon Sekkei, Inc., the Nagasaki Bio Park is part zoo and part botanical garden. Stretching out over 300,000 square meters, the park boasts about 200 animal and 1,000 plant species, with the resident population coming out to about 2,000 animals and 30,000 plants. The park aims to educate visitors about wildlife while offering hands-on experiences for young and old.
Split into 12 regions, each section features several different species in their own habitat. In some areas, like the Pond of Capybaras and Hill of Kangaroos, visitors are able to mingle among the creatures. In others, like the meerkats in Andes Square, you can feed the animals by tossing food into their closed-off enclosures for an additional fee. For some parts, like the Slope of Ostriches and Zebras, the animals can only be viewed from afar due to safety concerns.
The park is also home to PAW (Pet Animal World), a petting zoo with an eclectic group of animals that you can enter for an additional ¥500. Inside, there are bunnies, birds, lizards, dogs, cats, and mice, among others. Dogs and cats, given their respective curious and predatory natures, are given separate, gated areas in the back of this section. This is also the location of the Guinea Pig Bridge, a YouTube sensation, held daily at 4:30 p.m.
Prefer insects to furry creatures? Then check out the humid Flower Dome, the park’s third section, which houses butterflies flitting about amongst tropical flowers. Or, near the park’s halfway point, there’s the Insectarium for beetle lovers.
If all the excitement of meeting new animals tires you out, you can replenish your energy stores by heading to one of the bio park’s three eateries scattered around the park. Sakai Burger, near the park’s entrance, serves American-style burgers. Restaurant Quena, placed around the park’s halfway point, has pizzas and meal sets available. Café Kiwi, located near the zebras and kangaroos, caters largely to those needing a pick-me-up in the form of drinks and snacks.
If the fast-food options don’t appeal to you, the park permits guests to supply their own homemade food. Food purchased outside the park, such as the packaged bread from convenience stores, is prohibited.
The park presents guests with two gift shops. At the entrance, there’s the main store Mercado Primara. A little past the entrance, near Saikai Burger, is the smaller souvenir shop Totora. Both sell stuffed animals, toys, stationery, etc. So, if you’re on a budget and have little ones going through a “mine” phase, you might want to give these a wide berth to avoid any potential meltdowns.