Friday, January 26, 2007

7. Zoo Review: Inokashira Shizen Bunka-en Gardens (Kichijoji)

The Inokashira Park Zoo is a ten minute walk from Kichijoji Station, on the JR Chuo line (from Shinjuku), the Keio Inokashira Line (from Shibuya).

It is also accessible by car. The park's address is: 17-6, Gotenyama 1 chome, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-0005. The phone number is: 0422-46-1100

The Inokashira Park Zoo is open from 9:30am to 5:00pm (last admission 4:00). It is closed every Monday, unless Monday is a public holiday (then it closes on Tuesday). It is also closed from December 29 to January 1.

Admission: Adults (16 - 64) 400 yen Seniors (65+) 200 yen
Students (13 - 15) 150 yen Children (0-12) Free

*Admission is free for junior high school students living in Tokyo or attending schools in Tokyo. Admission is also free for the disabled, and one assistant per disabled person.

*Groups of 20 or more paying individuals are entitled to a 20% discount.

*Entrance to the Inokashira Park Zoo is free with the Grutt Pass.

I had mixed feelings about this zoo. On the negative side, it was obvious that this zoo is old. Many of the animal enclosures were small and worn down. You will feel sorry for some of them. Fortunately, there is only one large animal here, an Asiatic elephant. All the other animals are small, or they are 'petting zoo' animals.

On the positive side, small children who do not yet truly understand the differences in how animals can be caged, will love it here. There is an enclosure that guests enter and squirrels run free in front of them. There is a guinea pig petting area, with lots and lots of adorable guinea pigs to choose from. Many of the animals are cute and furry; foxes, raccoons, deer,...

There is also a building devoted to 'aquatic life'. The displays here were excellent, and they were low enough for small children to get a good look at everything hiding in the tanks. The zoo is also a park/garden. There is a playground, children's amusement rides, sculpture garden,...

The zoo is surrounded by the Inokashira Park (and Natural Culture Park), with lots to see and do. There is a shrine, paddle boat rental on a small lake, walking courses, a jogging track,... Small restaurants within the park serve soba noodles and other basic Japanese foods. All of this just a short walk from Kichijoji Station.

In our exploration of the area, we also came across the famous 'Ghibli Museum'. This museum is so popular that you have to have prior reservations to enter.

Even if you decide not to enter the zoo, the parks around Kichijoji Station are full of things for a family with children to do (or anyone else for that matter). I would definitely recommend it, it is a great day trip.

**Free entry with Grutt Pass 2007 (#49)

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