The Saitama Children’s Zoo is called the Saitama Children’s Animal Nature Park in Japanese. The zoo is in Takasaka, Higashimatsuyama on the Tobu Tojo line from Ikebukuro, Tokyo. It is fantastic value for money, but furthermore it is one of the best days out for children in Saitama prefecture. It has something for children (and people) of all ages. And is one of the best animal nature parks in Japan.
Update April 2020: the Saitama Children’s Zoo has been temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. They have not yet released a date for reopening. It could be as early as April 13th or as late as May 7th.
Please check with the official website for the latest information.
The zoo is spread over a large area and there is so much to do, see and experience, so 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). Furthermore, 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.
Highlights of the Saitama Children’s Zoo
Saitama Children’s Zoo Petting area
In the petting area of Saitama Children’s Zoo 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. It is a very popular event, definitely my kids favourite, so if possible it is best advised to arrive early. Particularly on weekends when the zoo is always buzzing with people. Sometimes they have flying squirrels, mice, baby chicks and/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.
In addition, 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.
In addition to being able to scoop up poop, the kids can also learn about animal poop. We all know how much kids love to giggle at anything poo related. However, in Japan, I have found that it is not as taboo as it is at home in Ireland. With the result, I wasn’t surprised to find some of the enclosures have poo related quizzes at their interactive learning stations. For example, pictured above, at the Red Panda enclosure they challenge you to guess which animal each poo belongs to. The answer is in the box below along with more details written on a toilet role holder!
Other Experiences at Saitama Children’s 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. However, 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.
- In addition on the weekends it is possible to feed the ponies between 3.15 and 3.45pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
- Also on weekends it is possible to feed the goats between 2.30 and 3.15pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
- Each month on the first Sunday 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 the Saitama Children’s Zoo (Saitama Children’s animal nature park) is that even though we go quite a lot, there is always something different to try. Moreover, throughout the year there are some really great events and they also have the classes mentioned above. Furthermore the events change periodically and they often run a few together. With the result it is the kind of place you can enjoy in every season. 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
- 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
Children’s castle at the Saitama Children’s Zoo
For an extra 100 yen the kids can enjoy an indoor play area with a library room and, most noteworthy, a talking tree. The 1st floor is home to the special tree that tells stories and plays music. Furthermore it is animated and the orchestra in the tree move to the music.
Close to the storytelling tree 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. In addition to that, on the 2nd floor there is a padded play area with wooden toys and building toys where there is a snake slide. There is also a frog cave in the padded area too. In addition they have a library room on that floor. Here is where they have the story time once a month.
In conclusion, I really recommend the Saitama Children’s Zoo aka Saitama Children’s Animal Nature Park, for a family day out. I particularly recommend planning for a full day or at least five hours because there really is a lot to do and see at this great zoo. Furthermore, if at all possible, I suggest timing it so you can hold some pets and / or feed some animals.
The zoo is called the Saitama Children’s zoo in English, but the Japanese name translates to Saitama Children’s Animal Nature Park. Occasionally it is referenced as such in English too.
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 Saitama Children’s Zoo
Address: 554 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065
The nearest train station is Takasaka station on the Tobu Tojo Line which goes from Ikebukuro. You can get a bus from the station or it is a 30 minute walk. The bus timetable is here (Japanese only).
By car you can use either the Higashimatsuyama or Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange exits on the Kanetsu expressway. Please note that you must have an ETC card to use the latter, Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange, exit.
Other zoos on this blog: