Hokkaido Tourist Attractions: How to enjoy Asahiyama Zoo

sightseeing

INTRODUCTION

Located in Hokkaido, Japan, Asahiyama Zoo is known as a unique zoo where visitors can observe the natural behavior of animals up close and personal. since its opening in 1997, Asahiyama Zoo has attracted many visitors with its innovative exhibition methods. The animals live in an environment close to their natural habitat, and their ecology and behavior are displayed in a way that is easy to understand.

The zoo’s main attractions are exhibits that allow visitors to enjoy the dynamic movements of the animals, such as penguin walks, polar bear dives, and a “marine way” that allows visitors to watch seals swim from a 360-degree angle. The zoo also offers different events and exhibits for each season, making it worth a visit all year round.

Furthermore, Asahiyama Zoo is also committed to animal welfare and has devised ways to minimize stress and enrich the lives of the animals. By visiting, you can learn about animal ecology and the environment, and get a chance to think about living in harmony with nature.

We encourage you to visit Asahiyama Zoo during your trip to Hokkaido and experience its charms to the fullest. Families, couples, solo travelers, everyone can enjoy this wonderful spot. This article will provide you with detailed information on how to enjoy Asahiyama Zoo and its attractions, and will help you plan your trip.

History and Culture of a Tourist Attraction

Asahiyama Zoo is one of Japan’s zoos known for its unique exhibition methods and commitment to animal welfare. Here we introduce its history and culture in detail.

Historical Background

Asahiyama Zoo was opened in 1967 in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. In the beginning, the zoo adopted a traditional style of exhibiting animals like other zoos, but in the 1990s, the number of visitors declined and management became difficult. However, under the leadership of Masao Kosuge, who took over as director in 1997, the zoo underwent a major reform.

Kosuge introduced an innovative concept called “behavioral exhibits,” a method of display that allows visitors to observe the animals as they display their natural behavior. This allowed visitors to enjoy the dynamic movements of the animals, such as penguins taking a walk in the snow or polar bears jumping into a pool. This reform was a success, and Asahiyama Zoo became a popular tourist attraction.

Cultural Characteristics

The culture of Asahiyama Zoo is characterized by its emphasis on animal welfare and education. The zoo places the highest priority on creating an environment in which the animals can behave naturally and without stress, and has devised a variety of exhibition methods. For example, there are many exhibits that help visitors understand the ecology of the animals, such as the “Marine Way” where visitors can observe penguins walking and seals swimming vertically.

The zoo also provides visitors with opportunities to learn about animal life and environmental conservation. Exhibits are accompanied by detailed explanations so that visitors can learn about the ecology and habits of animals and the importance of conservation. One of the attractions of Asahiyama Zoo is its strong educational component, which allows everyone from children to adults to learn while having fun at the same time.

Seasonal Attractions

Asahiyama Zoo is a place where visitors can enjoy seasonal scenery and animal activities. In winter, penguins march through the snow, and in summer, animals can be seen actively moving about. Special events and exhibits are held each season, so there is something new to discover no matter how many times you visit.

Conclusion
Asahiyama Zoo has become a tourist attraction loved by many people for its innovative exhibition methods and commitment to animal welfare. The zoo provides visitors with the opportunity to observe animals up close and personal as they display their natural behaviors, providing an inspiring and educational experience. Understanding the historical background and cultural characteristics of the area will further deepen your enjoyment. We encourage you to visit Asahiyama Zoo on your trip to Hokkaido and experience its charms to the fullest.

Places to visit

Asahiyama Zoo attracts many visitors with its innovative exhibition methods combined with rich animal welfare. Here are some of the main highlights of Asahiyama Zoo.

Penguin Walk

The winter-only “Penguin Walk” is one of Asahiyama Zoo’s most iconic events. The sight of penguins marching through the snow is both adorable and powerful, and attracts many visitors. This event is held to provide exercise and relieve stress for the penguins, and visitors can observe their natural behavior up close.

Polar Bear Pavilion

At the Polar Bear Pavilion, visitors can observe giant polar bears up close as they dive into the pool and swim underwater. Especially during “Diving Time,” visitors can witness the polar bear’s dynamic dive into the water, and are overwhelmed by its power

Seal Pavilion

The centerpiece of the Seal Pavilion is a cylindrical tank called “Marine Way. Here, seals can be seen swimming vertically from anywhere in a 360-degree angle. The sight of seals moving up and down is a sight not easily seen in other zoos.

Chimpanzee Pavilion

In the Chimpanzee Pavilion, visitors can observe the social behavior of chimpanzees. In the large exhibit area, visitors can watch the chimpanzees playing around and communicating with each other. Visitors can observe the chimpanzees through glass windows, providing a realistic experience.

Orangutan Pavilion

In the Orangutan Pavilion, visitors can observe orangutans moving around on ropes set up on high ground. This exhibit is designed to bring out the natural movements of orangutans, allowing visitors to enjoy their dynamic movements.

Seasonal Events

Asahiyama Zoo holds special events for each of the four seasons. In spring, visitors can observe the animals in the zoo under the blooming cherry blossoms; in summer, the zoo is open at night for a night safari; in autumn, visitors can enjoy the collaboration of the animals with the changing leaves; and in winter, visitors can enjoy the illumination of the zoo and the animals in the snow.

Recommended time of year

Asahiyama Zoo is a sightseeing spot that can be enjoyed throughout the year, but here are some particularly recommended times to visit.

Spring (March to May)
Spring is the time when the animals become more active and you may be able to see baby animals. The park is also beautiful when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

Summer (June – August)
In summer, the park is lush with vegetation and the animals are energetic. The Night Safari, which opens at night, is a unique event during this season.

Autumn (September to November)
Autumn is the best time of year to view the animals due to the beautiful fall foliage and cooler weather. Special fall events are also held.

Winter (December – February)
In winter, visitors can enjoy snow and animal collaborations such as the “Penguin Walk. Polar bears and polar bears are also particularly active during this time.

Points to note at sightseeing spots
When visiting Asahiyama Zoo, please take the following precautions

Warm clothing: It can get very cold, especially during the winter months.
Crowding: Weekends and holidays are often crowded, so visit on a weekday or early in the day to enjoy the zoo in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Check the official website before visiting the zoo to confirm hours of operation, which vary depending on the season.
Asahiyama Zoo is a unique and fascinating zoo where you can observe the natural behavior of the animals up close. By visiting, you will learn a great deal about the animals’ ecology and environment. We hope you will experience its charm to the fullest.

Access

Asahiyama Zoo is located in Asahikawa City, Hokkaido, and is conveniently accessible by a variety of means of transportation. Here we introduce the main access methods.

Access from Asahikawa Station
Access to Asahiyama Zoo from Asahikawa Station is as follows.

Bus

Asahikawa Electric Bus: A direct bus service to the zoo is available from Asahikawa Station. It takes about 40 minutes, and you can get on the bus at bus stop No. 6 of Asahikawa Station Bus Terminal.
Dohoku Bus: Also from Asahikawa Station, there is a bus bound for the zoo. It also takes about 40 minutes and departs from bus stop No. 5.
Cab

A cab from Asahikawa Station takes about 30 minutes. The fare is approximately 3,000 to 4,000 yen.
Car Rental

There are many car rental companies near Asahikawa Station. By using a rental car, you can visit the zoo on your own schedule. The drive from Asahikawa Station to Asahiyama Zoo takes about 30 minutes.
Access from New Chitose Airport
Access to Asahiyama Zoo from New Chitose Airport is as follows.

Train

From New Chitose Airport, take the JR Rapid Airport and transfer at Sapporo Station to the Limited Express Lilac or Limited Express Kamui. It takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to Asahikawa Station. Then take a bus or cab from Asahikawa Station to the zoo.
Express Bus

Express buses run directly from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa City. The trip takes about 3 hours and the bus arrives in front of Asahikawa Station. From there, take a bus or cab to the zoo.
Car Rental

There are many car rental companies at New Chitose Airport. The trip takes about 3 hours.
Access from Sapporo
There are several ways to get to Asahiyama Zoo from Sapporo.

By train

From Sapporo Station, take the Limited Express Lilac or Limited Express Kamui to Asahikawa Station, which takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Then take a bus or cab from Asahikawa Station to the zoo.
Highway Bus

Express buses run from Sapporo to Asahikawa. The trip takes about 2 hours and the bus arrives in front of Asahikawa Station. From there, take a bus or cab to the zoo.
Rental Car

A rental car from Sapporo to Asahikawa takes about 2 hours. The expressway is a comfortable way to get around.
Maps and Navigation
You can easily check the route to Asahiyama Zoo by using a map application on your smartphone; use Google Maps or Apple Maps to check the latest traffic information and the best route.

Notes
Check traffic conditions: Traffic can be slow during the winter months due to snow. Check traffic conditions in advance and plan accordingly.
Purchase tickets: It is recommended to purchase bus and train tickets online or in advance at the station or bus terminal.
Local Transportation: In addition to buses and cabs, bicycle rentals are available in Asahikawa. On a sunny day, it is comfortable to ride a bicycle.
There are a wide variety of ways to get to Asahiyama Zoo, so choose the one that best fits your itinerary and enjoy a pleasant sightseeing experience.

Business Hours and Admission Fees

Here is detailed information on business hours and admission fees that you should know when visiting Asahiyama Zoo.

Business Hours
Asahiyama Zoo’s hours of operation vary depending on the season. The following is a general guide to operating hours.

Summer (late April to mid-October)

Opening time: 9:30 am
Closing time: 5:15 p.m. (last admission: 4:00 p.m.)
Winter (mid-October to early April)

Opening time: 10:30 a.m.
Closing time: 3:30 p.m. (last admission: 3:00 p.m.)
Special operating periods (e.g., summer night openings, winter Christmas events, etc.)

Opening hours and last admission time may be extended. Please check the official website for specific dates and hours.
Admission Fees
Admission fees for Asahiyama Zoo are as follows

General Admission

Adults (high school students and older): 1,000 yen
Children (junior high school students and under): Free
Annual Passport

Adults (high school students and older): 1,400 yen
The Annual Passport is a great value option for frequent visitors. Once purchased, you can enter the park as many times as you like during the year.

Discount Information
Group Discounts: Discounts are available for groups of 30 or more. Advance reservations are required.
Discounts for the disabled: admission is free for disabled persons with a disability certificate and one caregiver. Please present the certificate at the reception desk.
How to purchase tickets
Asahiyama Zoo admission tickets can be purchased at the local ticket counter, or in advance at the official website or at some convenience stores. Online purchase is recommended for smooth admission even during busy times.

Precautions
Re-entry: Visitors may leave the park temporarily after entering and re-enter. You will need to have your hand stamped when re-entering the park.
Pets: Pets are not allowed in the park. Guide dogs, service dogs, and hearing dogs are excluded.
Seasonal Events
Asahiyama Zoo holds special events each season. This way, visitors can enjoy a new experience any time of the year.

Spring: This is the season for the birth of new life, and baby animals can often be seen.
Summer: the zoo is open at night, allowing visitors to observe the animals at night.
Autumn: Animals are more active and have bigger appetites.
Winter: “Penguin Walk” and snowfall are the best time to see the animals in the park.
Plan your visit
Check the Asahiyama Zoo’s hours of operation and admission fees in advance, and plan your visit accordingly to ensure a smooth and enjoyable sightseeing experience. Take advantage of seasonal special events and discount information as well to make the most of your time at the zoo.

Gourmet

When visiting Asahiyama Zoo, you should not miss the delicious gourmet food you can enjoy in and around the zoo. Here we introduce some of the best restaurants and cafes in the zoo, as well as recommended dining spots in the surrounding area.

Restaurants and Cafes in the Park

Seal Pavilion Cafe

Location: Near the Seal Pavilion
Recommended Menu: Hokkaido soft-serve ice cream, coffee
The Zarashikan Café is a spot where you can take a break from animal watching. The rich soft-serve ice cream unique to Hokkaido is very popular, especially during summer visits.

Restaurant Orangutan Terrace

Location: Next to the Orangutan Pavilion
Recommended Menu: Curry rice, ramen noodles, hamburgers
Orangutan Terrace is a popular restaurant for families. A wide range of menu items are available, especially the zoo’s original menu.

Penguin Pavilion Cafe

Location: Near Penguin Pavilion
Recommended Menu: Snacks, drinks, sweets
At the Penguin Pavilion Café, you can enjoy snacks and drinks while gazing at the penguins. Special sweets are also available, making it a perfect place to take a break from sightseeing.

Recommended eating spots outside the park

Ramen Village

Address: 4-119-48, Nagayama 11jo, Asahikawa City, Hokkaido
Recommended Menu: Asahikawa Ramen
Asahikawa is also known for its ramen. Asahikawa Ramen Village is home to many ramen stores, each with its own unique flavor.

Jundog (in Asahikawa Grand Hotel)

Address: 9-45, 6jo-dori, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido
Recommended Menu: Jundog
Jundog is Asahikawa’s specialty, a hot dog with sausage wrapped in bread. It can be enjoyed at the cafe in Asahikawa Grand Hotel.

Sushi Matsumoto

Address: 8-right 6, 4jo-dori, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido
Recommended Menu: Fresh Sushi
Sushi restaurant where you can enjoy fresh seafood. You can enjoy nigirizushi and kaisendon (seafood rice bowl) made with plenty of seafood from Hokkaido.

Local Food

Hokkaido Soft Ice Cream

Hokkaido’s dairy products are famous throughout the country, and the rich soft-serve ice cream is especially popular. It can be easily enjoyed inside and outside Asahiyama Zoo, so be sure to try it in between sightseeing tours.

Jingisukan

Jingisukan, a specialty of Hokkaido, can also be enjoyed in Asahikawa. The charcoal-grilled Jingisukan is especially delicious and popular among tourists.

Asahikawa Soy Sauce Ramen

Asahikawa’s ramen features a soy sauce-based soup with a rich flavor. There are many ramen restaurants in Asahikawa, and it is fun to walk around eating them.

Conclusion
When visiting Asahiyama Zoo, be sure to enjoy not only the animals but also the delicious food. The cafes and restaurants in the zoo offer a variety of menus using ingredients unique to Hokkaido. There are also many places outside the zoo where you can taste local specialties such as Asahikawa Ramen and Genghis Khan. Enjoy your day at Asahiyama Zoo with a great meal.

Shopping

One of the most enjoyable parts of a visit to Asahiyama Zoo is choosing souvenirs. There are many stores in and around the zoo where you can purchase local products unique to Hokkaido and original zoo goods. Here are some recommended shopping spots and souvenirs.

Stores in the park

Asahiyama Store

Location: Near the entrance gate
This is the official store of Asahiyama Zoo, offering zoo-specific goods and souvenirs. You can find stuffed animals, key chains, stationery, and other items only available here.

Penguin Pavilion Shop

Location: Near the Penguin Pavilion
The Penguin Pavilion Shop offers a wide variety of goods featuring penguins. Stuffed penguin toys and mug cups are especially popular.

Polar Bear Pavilion Shop

Location: Near the Polar Bear Pavilion
The Polar Bear Pavilion Shop offers a wide variety of polar bear-related goods. The shop offers a variety of adorable polar bear accessories and stationery, perfect as souvenirs.
Recommended shopping spots outside the park

Asahikawa Station Shopping Center “Feel“

Address: 7-2-5 Miyashita-dori, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido
Located in front of Asahikawa Station, this shopping center offers a variety of Hokkaido foods and souvenirs. It is a convenient place to stop by on your way home after visiting the zoo.

Kita no Sumai Sekkeisha

Address: 73-1 Kuranuma, Higashi-Asahikawa-cho, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido
Located about a 10-minute drive from Asahiyama Zoo, Kita no Sumai Sekkeisha sells furniture and sundries made in Hokkaido. Their handmade furniture and interior items are of high quality and make great special souvenirs.

Recommended Souvenirs

Asahiyama Zoo original goods

Asahiyama Zoo’s original goods are a great way to commemorate your visit. They include cute stuffed animals, zoo-specific T-shirts, eco-bags, and more. They are especially popular as souvenirs for children.

Hokkaido Cheesecake

Hokkaido is rich in dairy products, and there are many delicious cheesecakes. They are available at confectionery stores in Asahikawa and at the airport, making them ideal for both personal use and as souvenirs.

Shiroi Koibito

Shiroi Koibito, one of Hokkaido’s most popular sweets, can also be purchased when visiting Asahiyama Zoo. The combination of crispy cookies and white chocolate is exquisite, and is a classic souvenir that anyone will be pleased to receive.

Roice Chocolates

Products from the Hokkaido chocolate brand “Roice” can also be purchased in Asahikawa. Particularly popular are their raw chocolates, which are characterized by their smooth mouth feel and rich flavor.

Jingisukan sauce

Jingisukan sauce, a Hokkaido specialty, is also a popular souvenir. It can be purchased at supermarkets and souvenir stores in Asahikawa, allowing you to recreate the taste of Hokkaido at home.

Summary

Asahiyama Zoo is a popular zoo located in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, and its innovative “behavioral exhibits” allow visitors to observe the natural behavior of the animals, which is a major attraction. For example, penguins stroll and polar bears dive, all of which are unique ways of showing the animals in their natural habitat. The park has many exhibits that allow visitors to enjoy the animals’ movements from a 360-degree angle, such as the cylindrical water tank in the Seal Pavilion and the orangutans’ rope crossing. Visitors can also enjoy the seasonal changes in the scenery and animals, making new discoveries no matter how many times they visit. Another attraction of the zoo is its breeding environment that emphasizes animal welfare and educational exhibits that allow visitors to learn about animal ecology and environmental protection. Asahiyama Zoo is a sightseeing spot that can be enjoyed by everyone, including families, couples, and solo travelers.