Information for the annual Capybara Onsen at the Saitama Children’s Zoo. The official start date for the 2021 – 22 capybara onsen is Tuesday November 16th.
Where can I see capybara in a hot spring in Saitama?
There are actually quite a few places around the Kanto plain that have a capybara hot spring in recent years, but one of the first (and one of the best) is the capybara hot spring in Saitama Children’s Zoo. Another place you can usually see them, in Saitama, is in Chikozan zoo where they also have a monkey hot spring.
Saitama Children’s Zoo Capybara Onsen
The 2021 ~ 2022 capybara onsen dates have finally been confirmed. Each year the event starts in the middle of November and runs until the end of March. Even last year when the daily cases of corona were quite high (in comparison to this year) the event went ahead. Often it starts on Saitama Prefecture Day*, November 14th. However, in 2021 they are postponing the start date to Tuesday November 16th. Because the zoo is free in again on November 14th this year for Saitama Day and it is a weekend the zoo will be busy enough without the capybara hot spring starting! The zoo is always closed on Mondays, so Tuesday November the 16th it is.
The capybara onsen is usually on until the last day of March, on the days that the zoo is open. It will be the same in 2022 – the onsen will run until March 31st 2022. You can see the capybara in the onsen between 10 am and 4 pm. Yep, they love the onsen that much that you’ll always find a few in it during those six hours!
The zoo is CLOSED ON MONDAYS all year round and on both Mondays and Tuesdays during the month of January. In addition, the zoo is also closed for a few days over New Years, usually from the 31st of December to the 3rd of January. The end date of the capybara onsen in 2022 will be determined at a later date depending on weather and other factors. They usually put Yuzu in the bath (as pictured) from December 1st to December 22nd.
Foot spa event
The foot spa event usually takes place daily on the days the zoo is open between 2 and 4 pm. The first 12 customers in line will be able to get up close and personal with the capybara and enjoy a foot spa in the same enclosure. This part of the event starts from 2.30 pm and finishes around 3.30 pm. There is no additional cost for viewing the capybara, but there is a small fee for the foot spa event. Unfortunately, it seems like this event won’t be on in 2021 – 2022. It wasn’t in 2020 – 21 either due to the pandemic.
During the first week of the capybara onsen the animal stage event is usually on too. The animals put on a show in the main theatre (near the paddling pool, beside the Beatrix Potter museum). In 2021, the animal event stage is on Saturdays between October 16th and November 27th.
The annual art festival is always running for the first few weeks of this event. However, on 2021 it is on for longer than normal. The festival started on October 1st and will be on until Thursday December 30th. You can try your hand at some animal crafts during this period.
Another event that can be enjoyed during Winter in the zoo is the annual gift giving to animals which normally takes place on a Saturday or Sunday near Christmas. The 2021 dates have not yet been set.
All of these events are free to participate in, once you have paid into the zoo itself. There are also some events with a nominal charge. Such as the ever popular butter making class which costs 300 yen per person. The butter making event was suspended temporarily in both 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. But it is back on now, on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays. You need to buy a ticket at the gate.
Please note that the entrance fee to the zoo for adults went up in 2021. It now costs 700 yen per adult. However, the children’s price was reduced. It now costs 200 yen per child. Map below the linked post with more general information for the zoo, including access details in English:
Saitama Children’s Zoo