If you want to educate your child about animals and walking in the outdoors, you will love the Tama Zoo. Tama Zoo is huge at 129 acres (52H) which is about four times Ueno Zoo size. If you were to see everything, you would have walked over 8K in one day. We walked for three hours and only saw 2/3 of the Zoo. If you do not feel like walking as much, there is a Silver bus that you can take all the way to the Koalas, which is the farthest point, and walk back. The goal of Tama Zoo is to display the animals in as natural habitats as possible. The Tama Zoo has three main areas the Asiatic, African and Australian, as well as an impressive Insectarium. Another cool part of the Tama Zoo is the group of very passionate senior volunteers who explain the animals and have side exhibits like animal hair to touch and panels that show you what the animals eat. See our entire list of recommended zoos and aquariums here.
If your children love animals, we also recommend the following locations in the Tokyo area for kids:
Tama Zoo, Hino – Tokyo Day Trip
Baby and I first headed for the African area that was a brisk 15 min walk uphill. Follow the fun animal footprints to see the chimpanzees in their 15-meter high tower area. There is also a lion bus, which you can ride for a few hundred yen to see the lions in a safari atmosphere. The final large area is the Savannah, which features giraffes, zebras, ostriches and pelicans. The Savannah area is a bit barren of green. However, there is a new African area being constructed and scheduled to be complete the end of 2014 which may improve this area. Honestly, we could have left after the African exhibit since Baby had seen quite a bit, but we continued to the Asian zone to see the
orang-utan Skywalk (not to be missed), the Malayan tapir swimming in his tank and the mole house. All very well done! Our final trek was to the koala house that was a big success since it was feeding time. We decided to leave after the koala house having seen quite a bit; luckily it was a downhill walk of about 20 mins to the exit. We did miss the Insectarium, which I hear is great, but Baby is not a huge bug fan. Overall a great visit and Baby was asleep before we pulled out of the parking lot with a stuffed orangutan in her arms. Only advice would be to bring some water or drinks, and wear very comfortable shoes since you will be walking a lot. There are cafe areas with vending machines, but you may need something in-between.
There is no official zoo parking. However, there are private parking areas. We arrived around noon which was a bit late to get a parking spot close by, so ended up walking about ten mins. Parking is between 1,000-1,600 for the day. Taking the train is also easy by taking the express Keio Line from Shinjuku Station to Takahata-Fudo Stations and then changing to the Tama Dobutsu Koen Station (about an hour trip).
The Takahata Fudo Temple is also about 2K away, so if you happen to be in area on the third Sunday of the month check out the huge antique market or just stroll the grounds of this beautiful temple.
Value for your money: great, kids elementary and below are free
Location: about an hour from downtown Tokyo by train or car
Child friendliness: very stroller friendly and fun for all ages
Toilets: acceptable, all have baby changing areas
Tama Zoo Details
Address: 7-1-1, Hodokubo, Hino-shi, Tokyo 191-0042
Hours: Opening times: Closed Wed (Thurs if Wed is a national holiday), open 9:30-17:00 pm, Closed Dec 29-Jan 1
Cost: Adults (16-64) 600 yen, 65+ 300 yen, Students (13-15) 200 yen, kids under 13 free
Access: 1 min walk from the Tama Zoo Monorail on the Tamatoshi Line. Train or driving is about a 90 min trip from central Tokyo.
Tama Zoo, Hino
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