Higashiyama Park, Zoo and Botanic Garden, Nagoya
Higashiyama Koen(Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Garden, Higashiyama Park, Nagoya Zoo and Botanic Garden) is the second popular zoo in Japan in 2010 with 2.18 million annual visitors twice as large figure as that of Nagoya castle and used to be the largest of its kind in Asia before the second world war. The park which has about 60 ha in area is divided with three areas, Amusement Park area, Zoo area and Botanical Garden area. Adjacent to the park stands Higashiyama Sky Tower, 134 meters in height. Popular animals in zoo area include Koalas, Penguins, Bears, Giraffes. Particularly this zoo was best known for introducing koalas to Japan for the first time. Botanical Garden area is popular as well. Popular places in Botanical Garden include Gassho House moved from World Heritage site, Shikarawa-go and 70-year-old green houses which also have historical value. Once visited, you will be sure to visit again. This was my fourth visit to the park but I still want to visit again.
When I was visiting the Higashiyama Park I did not have so much time for the zoo area, so I could take a few photos. Higashiyama Zoo became popular when the zoo introduced Koala bear for the first time in Japan. Koala still is popular here, but children often get bored because koalas are often asleep and immobile. Flash photos are prohibited there. During summer watching penguins beating summer heat by the cool sprinkles of misty water is a must-see. Higashiyama Park visitors often complain that there is few playgrounds for children. The only kiddie park is located near the bear building. Also there are some old dinosaur statues in the zoo area. They are oldest of its kind. The concept led to the Non-hoi park in Toyohashi which has Natural History Museum with dinosaur park.
Botanical Garden area of Higashiyama Park is the most favorite place of the park. But whenever I visit the park there is not so much time left for this area but it is huge and lots of area of the botanical garden is still unexplored. The two popular places of this area is Gassho-style house moved from Shirakawa-go area, now a World Heritage site and its old green house. The pond near the Gassho-style house is popular among photographers and painters. And some even try painting the Gassho House and the pond. Japanese garden near Gassho house was unfortunately closed for renovation.
Higashiyama Sky Tower built in 1989 adjacent to Higashiyama Park is 134 meters in total height atop the hill 80 meters above sea level. Observation room is at the fifth floor of the tower 100 meters from the ground and 180 meters in elevation.
This tower is best known for the nighttime view of Nagoya City but even in daytime you can enjoy the panoramic view of the city area, and mountains around Nagoya. You can easily see the entire layout of the park. So I recommend that you visit the tower earlier in your Higashiyama Park(Zoo and Botanical Garden) visit.
Compound ticket, 640 yen for adult both the tower and the park, is also available. The ticket saves 160 yen. So if you have a compound ticket you are given a reentry ticket because the tower is out of the park area. Could I find Nagoya castle from the tower? Yes, but it was quite a challenge. To find a castle start from the group of skyscrapers around Nagoya station. Then look rightward. Nagoya castle can barely be seen between the buildings.
Open Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Closes at 9:30 p.m.)
Admission: Tower Alone: 300 yen for adult, free of charge for children junior high school students(15-year-old) or under.
Tower, Zoo and Botanical Garden: 640 yen for adult, free of charge for children 15 or under.
Vivarium also called Shizen-dobutuen is the aquarium mainly for reptiles, amphibians and also a zoo for nocturnal animals. Photographing is not allowed in most part of the area. It has a swimming pool for crocodiles and space for nocturnal animals on the first floor, amphibians such as salamanders, newts, and frogs, reptiles such as crocodiles, snakes, lizards, tortoise and iguanas are shown on the second floor. On the outside of the vivarium there is an space for giant tortoises and children enjoy crawing through the hole to the tortoise shaped observation booth.
Medaka, also known as Japanese Killifish(Oryzias Latipes) is a tiny fresh water fish not longer than five centimeters(2 inches). It is a rare freshwater acquariums in Japan(probably in the world as well) dedicated to this species of fish. This acquarium also sets aside for the place for fresh water fishes in Shonai River.
Amusement Park area of Higashiyama Park is somewhat like what recent trend of mega-theme parks requiring thousands of yen for just entry, and with state-of-the-art rides which you have to wait in long queue have left behind. It is an old-fashioned amusement park purely for families with small children. In Japan such small-scale amusement parks have been out of business or facing closure if anything left at all. So this amusement park is for tourists from grandparents to grandchildren. To get a ride you need to pay extra about 100 yen to 300 yen depending on the rides.
If you like zoo and botanical garden, this place has plenty to offer. The place is huge so you must prepare yourself to do some exercise by walking. However, you may not notice the distance and the length of time you spend on this place because of plenty of attractions along the way. Be sure to have a camera ready all the time because good animal expressions may come at any moment where you least expect it to happen.
Hanami (cherry blossoms viewing) at the Higashiyama-koen park.
Higashima-koen is a zoo and botanical garden with hundreds of cherry trees. On the peak of the cherry blossom season everybody from Nagoya and vicinities come here to enjoy the views, but the area of the park is so big that it doesn't feel crowded.
A photo taken in Nagoya Zoo. This penguin must have been cookin' in the midday sun. It was +32C when I took this photo!
NAGOYA ZOO & BOTANICAL GARDENS: Visit Nagoya's zoo set amongst beautiful botanical gardens - a true oasis in the centre of the city.