Photo By: Tomohiro Ohtake
Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Tokyo
Population
12,059,237

Tama

Western Tokyo has Hello Kitty Land and the city's biggest zoo.

Located on Tokyo’s western outskirts, the city of Tama is one of the suburbs you will pass through on your way to Mount Takao. Local spots like Sanrio Puroland (aka Hello Kitty Land) and the sprawling Tama Zoo make this a worthwhile destination in and of itself.

Sanrio Puroland

The indoor theme park of Sanrio Puroland is Tama’s biggest draw. Inside, Sanrio characters like Hello Kitty and My Melody star in their own attractions, including a boat ride reminiscent of It’s a Small World at Tokyo DisneyLand.

Photo by: Tomohiro Ohtake

While it’s mostly in Japanese and understandably caters to kids, Sanrio Puroland is a mecca for those who want to immerse themselves in the culture of kawaii (cuteness) in Japan. If you’re bound for its rainbow entrance, you’ll know you’re on the right track when you see the stained-glass Hello Kitty ceiling in Tama-Center station.

Tama Center

The Parthenon Tama.

A short walk from the station is the tree-lined and red-brick promenade of Parthenon Avenue, which is known for its beautiful lights illuminations. Follow the avenue and go up some steep steps which will reveal the Parthenon Tama within Tama Central Park. The structure along with a hilltop pond that gives off reflections of the pillars encircling it gives a commanding view of the whole avenue, making you feel a bit like you’re at the real Parthenon in Greece. Behind the pond lies the greenery of the park. While in the area, shop for English books at Maruzen or catch a movie at Aeon Cinema Tama Center.

Tama Zoo

Spread out over 130 acres, Tama Zoo (technically located in neighboring Hino), is almost four times as big as the Ueno Zoo. That means the zoo (also known as Tama Zoological Park) involves more walking for visitors, but the animals have a more open habitat to roam around in.

Tama zoo

Photo by: urasimaru A rare cheetah at Tama Zoo.

The zoo is divided into an African, Australian and Asian Zone, the latter of which contains an orangutan skywalk. There is also an insectarium and koala house. This is the only zoo in Japan — and one of the only zoos in the world — with king cheetahs, a rare genetic mutation of the African cheetah with blotchy, striped spots on its fur.

Photo by: Joshua Meyer The Whisper of the Heart map and mailbox near Seiseki-Sakuragaoka station.

Last, if you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli movies — and your feet aren’t too tired after leaving the zoo — don’t miss out on visiting the nearby town Seiseki Sakuragaoka. The scenery may seem familiar if you’ve ever seen the Hayao Miyazaki film Whisper of the Heart because the anime was modeled after this town. Relive scenes from the movie as you walk down the winding roads and hills, and be sure to stop by Seiseki Sakuragaoka station first to get a map of local spots that were used as animation models.

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Things To Know

Sanrio Puroland

Hours vary, check the website calendar: https://en.puroland.jp. Admission: Free for children 2 and under. Weekdays: ¥3,300 for adults, ¥2,500 for children. Holidays, including weekends: ¥3,800 for adults, ¥2,700 for children. 

Tama Zoo

Open 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed on Wednesdays, or on Thursday if Wednesday is a public holiday. Closed from Dec. 29 to Jan. 1. Admission is ¥600 for adults, ¥300 for seniors (65+), ¥200 for students (13-15), free for children (0-12). Free on May 4 (Greenery Day), May 5 (Tama Zoo’s Anniversary) and Oct. 1. More info: https://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/tama/

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒206-0033 Tōkyō-to, Tama-shi, Ochiai, 1 Chome−48−1 多摩センター駅

By train

From Shinjuku, take the Keio Sagamihara Line (bound for Hashimoto) to Tama-Center. Seiseki-Sakuragaoka and Takahatafudo can be reached via the Keio line (bound for Takaosanguchi or Keio-Hachioji). Note that these trains depart from the same set of platforms marked “Keio line,” but the track splits at Chofu.

In Takahatafudo, you can catch the Tama Monorail to Tama-Dobutsukoen for the zoo and Tama-Center for Sanrio Puroland. The zoo also has its own direct train line, the Keio Dobutsuen line.

Where To Stay

Keio Plaza Hotel Tama
  • Ochiai 1-43 Tama-Shi, Tokyo 206-0033
  • 8/10
  • 0.2 km
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Smile Hotel Tokyo Tamanagayama
  • Suwa 2-5-1 Tama-Shi, Tokyo 206-0024
  • 7.3/10
  • 2.6 km
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Hotel Zen Machida (Adult Only)
  • Onojimachi 3006-1 Machida-Shi, Tokyo 195-0064
  • 8/10
  • 3.0 km
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Restay Onoji (Adult Only)
  • Onoji-machi 2394 Machida-Shi, Tokyo 195-0064
  • 7.1/10
  • 3.7 km
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