Hokkaido’s Asahiyama Zoo – A Wonderland in All Seasons

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Hokkaido’s Asahiyama Zoo is one of Japan’s most well-known zoos as it showcases animals in relatively natural surroundings which change according to the seasons.

When I heard about the famous penguin parade, I knew I had to visit Asahiyama Zoo. From Sapporo, I hopped on the special zoo train to Asahikawa. Passengers, from children to adults, were greatly entertained during the 1.5-hour train ride as the colorful themed carriages are perfect playgrounds for exploration.

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Asahiyama Zoo is snow-clad in winter and animals, including polar bears and monkeys, can be seen frolicking in the snow.Despite the cold, visitors can feel warmth from the cute handmade signs which provide information about the animals.

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From the underwater glass tunnel in the penguin house to the suspension bridge connecting the red panda’s lair, most enclosures are designed specially to allow visitors to observe the animals. Feeding sessions are also great for watching the animals in action.

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The highlight of my visit was definitely the penguin parade. The adorable penguins waddle and display their playful antics in front of visitors. The walk is designed to keep the penguins fit and healthy during winter. While I do not advocate animal captivity, I was touched by the sight of the waddling penguins and I believe Asahiyama Zoo has managed to achieve a great balance of showing off the animals while keeping their enclosures as close to their natural habitat as possible.

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Address: 11-18 Kuranuma, Higashi-asahikawa-cho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido Prefecture

Opening hours: 9:30–17:15 (summer), 10:30–15:30 (winter)

Price: 820 yen (adults), free for children until middle school

Directions: Take bus 41, 42 or 47 from Asahikawa Station (40 minutes, 440 yen)

This article was published in ANA Experience Japan website 2016-2018.