I’ve brought the kids to Tobu Zoo a few times over the years. Our initial visit was about seven years ago and we weren’t as impressed with the zoo side on that first visit. However, they have improved the zoo over the years and we have grown to like it enough for the very occasional visit. But I personally wouldn’t put it in “the best of Saitama” list by any means.
Our kids are a better age for Tobu Zoo now that we have no-one in nappies. I feel it is a zoo best suited to children upwards of preschool age. It is quite large, but not nearly large enough for the amount of animals they have. If you concentrate your visit to the zoo side it is certainly manageable. Accordingly, this post introduces only the zoo with only a little about the amusement park, summer pool and seasonal events.
There are 120 species of animals in Tobu zoo and 1,200 animals in total. You can see a lot of the animals up close. It is great that kids can see safari, mountain and jungle animals so near, but it is one zoo where I feel that the enclosures really are too small for the wild animals. And they have a lot of wild animals, including quite a few that you don’t see in many other places. Such as White Tigers:
White Tigers at Tobu Zoo
Tobu Zoo is one of only 12 places you can see White Tigers in Japan. Including white tigers that were born in the zoo in 2015. We are quite lucky in the Kanto area, because in total there are three places with white tigers. The other two places are Gunma Safari Park and Nasu Safari Park (Tochigi).
You can feed the white tigers on Saturdays only from 11 am. Only 15 families can do it each time; the first 15 families in line. It costs 500 yen per family. They give you a long spike with raw meat on the end and you push it into the cage where the white tiger is waiting not so patiently! You get to see the white tiger up close and personal.
Up close and personal
As I mentioned above, it is quite easy to see most of the animals in the zoo due to the design of their enclosures. For example, you can go into an underground tunnel to view the lions from beneath. And the bear’s hot tub is right by a window. Just two examples. But the zoo also has a great “fureai” area with even more opportunities.
The “fureai corner”, or petting area as we call it in English, is enjoyable for young children . You can hold chicks, pet rabbits and guinea pigs (in a basket) for no additional charge. It is open between 10 and noon and again from 1 pm to 4 pm. You can watch the guinea pigs parade or a seal performing at designated times. You can pick up information on show times at the entrance or they are indicated outside the pen.
There are other stage performances too and several of them are covered by the entrance fee. There are also other attractions in this area that you can pay to enjoy. Such as ride a pony or a camel. There are lots of ways to interact with the animals at the zoo, including feeding them:
Feeding Time at Tobu Zoo
Apart from the white tigers, there are ten other animals you can feed in the zoo. The elephant treat time feeding is particularly popular. You can do that at 1.30 pm on weekdays and at noon and 2 pm on weekends.
As well as the white tigers and elephants you can also feed:
- Brown Bears
The firefly house in Tobu Zoo was the first of its kind in the world. It is called the “hotarium”. Hotaru is the Japanese for firefly. You can see fireflies all year round.
Above are just some examples of the 120 animals at the Tobu Zoo, then of course there is the amusement park area with lots of different rides.
The ferris wheel is in the center of the park and it gives panoramic views of the park. But at 600 yen per person over three years of age on top of the entrance fee to the zoo it is quite costly, for our big family anyway. Most of the rides in the amusement area are expensive. If you plan to go on a lot it is probably most economical to buy a one day pass. (Costs outlined in the information area toward the bottom of the post.
Playground, Pool and Garden
There is a playground within the park, but wouldn’t you know: you have to pay into it. It costs 500 yen per kid. In summer they have their super pool. The park also opened a garden in 2016 with a rose garden and seasonal flowers. And of course there are all the seasonal events you can enjoy:
Seasonal Events at Tobu Zoo
There are several special events at Tobu Zoo throughout the year. You will find some of them linked to posts with more detail below. In addition, there are special passes each year on Saitama Day. Just to zoom in on the annual summer night zoo, one of the more popular events with children in Saitama. The zoo opens until 8 pm on Saturdays for much of the school summer holidays. In 2022, the night zoo dates are:
- Saturday July 16th
- July 23rd
- July 30th
- Saturday August 6th
- August 13th
- August 20th – there will also be a five minutes firework display on this evening (weather permitting)
- Last date: August 27th – about 500 fireworks will be launched on this evening too.
Regarding the fireworks – Tobu Zoo usually have a “Fireworks Illusion” display annually. However, due to the pandemic they have not had that display in three years. But this summer for just two nights they will have a mini fireworks, as an expression of their hopes for the convergence of the pandemic.
There is no denying that Tobu Zoo is a great day out for families. My biggest problem with the zoo (other than the small sizes of the enclosures) is that it is a complete rip off. I will openly admit: we much prefer Saitama Children’s zoo as it is even more interactive, economical, child friendly and (for the most part) the pens are better sizes for the animals.
Facilities for families
Rental: You can rent strollers and wheelchairs for 600 yen a day.
Baby facilities: There are four nurseries and 22 diaper changing areas: 16 in women’s toilets, 6 in men’s toilets around the park.
Getting around: You can ride an in-park shuttle bus for 300 yen. There is a park train that costs 400 yen.
Eateries: There are several eateries in Tobu Zoo, we have never been to one. We always take a picnic and there are plenty of places to eat outdoors in the zoo. The eateries include table service and self service restaurants as well as snack kiosks and cafes.
The pancake house seems to be particular. Photo from Saitama ’17 by Mappuru – linked below through Amazon Associates, this is a sponsored and affiliated advertisement link:
Tobu Zoo Information
Hours: The hours change greatly during the year, but the base hours are 9.30 to 5 pm Friday to Monday. In Spring, Summer and Autumn the zoo is often open seven days a week. And they have extended hours during seasonal events such as the current winter illumination.
Cost: Please do check the official website too for any recent increase in charges.
An entry ticket with no rides or extras included costs 1,700 yen for adults, 700 yen for children and 1,000 yen for seniors.
A “One Day Pass” which includes all-you-can-ride fairground attractions costs 5,100 yen for adults and 3,800 yen for children and seniors. (For the 2021 Saitama Day its reduced to 3800 yen for adults and 2,800 yen for children.)
The summer pool + entry to the park costs 2,400 yen for adults, 1,100 yen for children and 1,700 yen for seniors.
You can see how that compares to other zoos here.
Address: 110 Suka, Miyashiro, Minamisaitama District, Saitama 345-0831
Public Transport: 10 minute walk from Tobu Skytree skyliner Tobu Zoo Station.
Car: 15 kilometres from the Kuki Interchange on the Tohoku highway. Parking for 3000 cars, costs 1000 yen for the day.
Phone for SatNav / GPS: 0480-93-1200
tigers always get the people out!
Haha! In both senses!