A Day Trip To Oji Zoo – Peer Into The Lives Of Wild Animals – In the Suburbs Of Kobe, Japan
The court of red kangaroos bounded around under the winter sky, breath bursting into frost clouds from their nostrils. Emus cocked their head sideways as I walked by, long eye lashes fluttering in the wind.
Earlier, I gazed on at koalas napping in crotches of eucalyptus trees. But I was a hemisphere away from Australia.
The affluent suburbs of Kobe, Japan is probably the last place you’d expect to see Australian wildlife… unless you’re hip to Oji Zoo.
This Hyogo prefecture zoo provides a wonderful place for your little ones to see some exotic animals. And you’ll get some laughs from their experiences at the Children’s World. It hosts a petting zoo and another area that lets your kids get a closer view of “cute and cuddly looking” animals like otters and red pandas, koalas and squirrels.
Outside the Children’s World, you’ll find the park divided into different exhibit areas. The anchor exhibits displayed on the map lead you to Nocturnal Animals & Reptiles, Great Apes, Bears’ House, Giant Panda, Herbivores, Elephants, and Wild Animals.
Your kids will giggle at the antics of the monkeys and lemurs bounding around in their cages, chattering to each other. They’ll dazzle at the colors and feathered display of the parrots.
Eyes will grow wide as they see the pacing tigers, the lounging lions, and the eerie gaze of the leopard follows them by the enclosure.
And imaginations will run wild in wonder about Africa when they see the ostriches, giraffes, elephants, and hippos – a mom and baby that lovingly frolic in the large hippo pool.
Looking for a bit of zoological education? The Zoological Science Center has you covered. Besides elephant and giraffe skeletons, your kids will learn about the diets of various animals at the Animal Restaurant.
The zoo was relatively empty, allowing us get around smoothly. We went on an early March when the elementary school kids were in school. We arrived around noon and stayed until exhaustion and temper tantrums kicked in. NOTE: Learn from my mistake. Be sure to take advantage of the little rest areas around the zoo… Stay hydrated. Keep the tummy full. (Bring your own water bottles and snacks. But PLEASE do not feed the animals.)
Coming from Osaka or farther, you should expect to spend this as a day adventure. You’ll need a good 3 1/2 hours to get the basic sites in if you’re with a 3 year old… more if you hit the amusement park. Expect to take longer if you’re with younger kids.
- Hankyu Train – Kobe Shinkaichi Line – Take the Express Train to Okamoto station. Change to the local train. Get out at Oji Koen Station. Walk 3 minutes west.
- JR Train – JR Kobe line to JR Nada Station. Walk 5 mintues north.
- Hanshin Train – Get out at Iwaya Station – Walk 10 minutes north.
- Kobe City Bus – Route No. 90 “Oji Dobutsuen-mae” (Oji Zoo) bus stop.
You can also drive. Parking is 150 yen up to 2 hours, 100 yen for 2-4 hours, and over 4 hours, 50 yen per 30 minutes.
Find it on Google Maps Here
Oji Zoo gives you a great way to get outside with the family, stretch your legs and your imagination – without stretching your budget. In fact, admission is only 600 yen for people high school aged to 64. Kids up to high school and people 65 and over get in free, as do disabled persons. (Be sure to bring age / condition supporting documentation – a photo I.D.)