An Adventure for the Entire Family: The Kyoto City Zoo
After a long day of exploring Kyoto’s many temples, shrines, and museums, your family may be looking for a change of pace. In the east of Kyoto, in the Okazaki neighborhood, you‘ll be pleased to discover the Kyoto City Zoo, just a short walk from such famous spots as Heian-jingu Shrine and Nanzen-ji Temple. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon with your children!
The Kyoto City Zoo is home to a wide variety of creatures from around the world, from the more ferocious, like tigers, gorillas, and bears; to the cute—squirrels, penguins, and even fennecs. The zoo offers an up-close view of the animals, so it makes for a particularly exciting experience. If you visit during the spring, you will get some amazing views of the cherry blossoms that are scattered throughout the grounds and along the Lake Biwa Canal that runs along the length of the zoo.
One of the most interesting parts of the zoo for those visiting from outside of Japan is the area called “Kyoto no Mori,” meaning the Kyoto Forest. It is populated by some of the local Kyoto species that you won’t get a chance to see walking the streets of the city. You and your kids may know some of their relatives from back home, but it will certainly be a surprise to see some of the species that live in the area surrounding Kyoto, including the Japanese Squirrel, the Mandarin Duck, the Japanese Giant Salamander and many more!
The zoo very much values the welfare of its animals, and you’ll be glad to hear that some of the animals in this section of the zoo are actually rescues from the surrounding area. They cannot go back to the wild due to their injuries, but fortunately, they are living comfortably at the Kyoto City Zoo.
The Kyoto City Zoo is also host to many events throughout the year. The zoo has hosted lectures, nighttime viewings, and even animal feeding events, which are sure to enthrall you and the kids. For those not able to speak Japanese, lectures are sometimes offered in English as well. These events are held regularly throughout the year, so if the timing of your trip to Kyoto is just right, be sure to participate!
When you’ve finished exploring the zoo, take a rest at the library café. While you’re lapping up some refreshing coffee or gnawing on a scrumptious crêpe, the kids can enjoy an amazing collection of books about wildlife from around the world. They’ll see picture books by some authors they may already be familiar with, and reference books that illustrate the fine details about animals in the world. There is more than your fill to read, so spend an hour or spend an entire afternoon!
During your Kyoto travels, take the family to the Kyoto City Zoo and enjoy a bit of Kyoto’s wild side!
Transportation: To get to the zoo, take the Kyoto City Subway Tozai Line to Keage Station. The zoo is about a five-minute walk from the station.
Admission: 750 yen (Free for Junior High School Students and younger)
Zoo Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (March to November), 9:00 – 16:30 (December to February)
Closed: Mondays and New Year’s Holidays (December 28 - January 1)