The Saitama Children’s Zoo in Takasaka, Higashimatsuyama, is fantastic value for money and one of the best days out for children in Saitama prefecture. The zoo is spread over a large area and there is so much to do, see and experience, that you would definitely need to allocate a full day for a trip to this zoo. Apart from the animals, they have a large athletic playground beside a smaller playground, a Beatrix Potter museum with a small playground, a dinosaur corner, a small amusement area with battery cars and rides, a splash pool in the summer and there is an indoor play area with a climbing area outside (please see Children’s Castle below). Throughout the zoo they have photo props, interactive educational corners with quizzes and challenges for the kids, as well as plenty of rest areas, toilets and places that sell food.
In the petting area the children have an opportunity to get up close and personal with farm and domestic animals. Three times a day at 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm they bring out guinea pigs and rabbits for the children to hold and pet. Sometimes they have baby chicks or snakes, too. When the hour long session is over they have an animal parade where the guinea pigs walk down a long bridge back to their home. Outside of petting hour there is still an opportunity to get to close to farm animals as you can walk freely among pigs, goats and ducks. They provide brushes so you can brush down the animals and there are pooper-scoopers so that the kids can sweep up the animal’s poop. This is all included in the entrance price to the zoo.
- Next to the petting area is the cows. At 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm it is possible to try milking the cows under the supervision of the zoo staff. It is included in the price.
- Passed the cows there is the penguin area which is relatively new. For 300 yen you can feed the penguins, but they limit the number to 30 people a day. You can buy a ticket from 30 minutes before the feeding times which are 10.15am and 1.30pm.
- For 200 yen children over the age of 4 can ride a pony in the paddock beside the stables, which is close to the main entrance of the zoo. This experience is possible between 10.30 and 11.30 am and again between 1 and 3pm. For adults the price is 300 yen.
- On weekends it is possible to feed the goats between 2.30 and 3.15pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
- On weekends it is possible to feed the ponies between 3.15 and 3.45pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
- On the first Sunday of the month they have a class about animals from 2.30pm.
- Every month on the 2nd Sunday you can try your hand at butter making for just 200 yen. You need to book in advance.
- Every month on the 3rd Sunday they have an “Enrichment day”. Each time they discuss a different animal in detail.
- Every Saturday they have a craft class.
- On weekends they have tours of the giraffe’s paddock.
- On the 2nd Saturday of each month they have story time; please see the “Children’s Castle” below.
- Zoo train which costs 200 yen to ride once or 300 yen to use throughout the day.
One thing I really love about this zoo is that even though we go quite a lot, there is always something different to try. Throughout the year the classes mentioned above as well as the special events change quite frequently. It is best to check the website for up-to-date information and a full list of what’s on offer. Here are some of the more regular seasonal attractions:
- Capybara onsen – Winter
- 2016 the Capybara onsen will start from November 19th until the end of March 2017. The first 12 people there at 14.30 will be able to get up close and personal and dip your feet in a foot onsen. On December 18th they will be giving gifts to the animals.
- Australian animal Fair – Spring
- Sheep shearing – Spring
- Cherry blossoms – Spring
- Splash pool – Summer
- Night zoo – Summer
- Autumn leaves – Autumn
- New Year cards photo opportunity – Autumn / Winter
2016 Capybara Onsen, Art Festival and Gift giving day information:
For an extra 100 yen the kids can enjoy an indoor play area with a library room and talking tree. On the 1st floor they have a special tree that tells stories and plays music. Behind that is a ball pool with boats on top of the balls. Beside that is a cinema room with educational videos. There is a climbing tunnel from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor and also a ramp that is wide enough for a wheelchair and strollers. The kids can take a slide back from from the mezzanine to the first floor. On the 2nd floor there is a padded play area with wooden toys and building toys. There is a snake slide and frog cave in the padded area too. Beside it is the library room. Here is where they have the story time once a month.
Hours: 9.30am to 5pm except winter when it closes at 4.30pm. Costs: 510 yen for adults, 210 yen for children between 6 and 15. Free for children under 6. CLOSED ON MONDAYS all year round (except national holidays) and on Tuesdays too during the month of January.
Parking: For 800 cars, costs 600 yen per day. At weekends during peak season, there is an overflow car park. There are also some unofficial parking areas beside the overflow car park that open on busy days and cost 500 yen a day.
Access: 554 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065