Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園, Asahiyama Dōbutsuen) is a very popular zoological garden just outside of central Asahikawa City in the middle of Hokkaido. Its popularity lies in the enclosures which allow visitors to observe the animals from various angles, many of which are unique to Asahiyama Zoo.
Highlights include a glass tunnel through the penguin pool that allows visitors to observe the birds' underwater flights, and small glass domes in the middle of the polar bear and wolf enclosures that can get visitors right among the animals. The zoo was also one of the first to organize penguin walks in winter. Work on new enclosures and improvements to existing ones is constantly ongoing.
Animals on display include native wildlife from Hokkaido, including deer, eagles, cranes and (now extinct) wolves, as well as various animals from across the world, such as polar bears, apes, big cats and giraffes. If possible, try to visit the zoo outside of weekends and holidays to reduce the crowds.
Some unique enclosure at Asahiyama Zoo:
From Asahikawa Station
Take bus number 41, 42 or 47 from Asahikawa Station to Asahiyama Zoo. The one way ride takes 40 minutes and costs 440 yen. There are about two buses per hour.
The closest train station to the zoo is Kitahinode Station, a 30-40 minute walk away.
From Asahikawa Airport
There are very infrequent direct buses between the airport and the zoo (35 minutes, 550 yen one way). During the rest of the day, take a bus from the airport to Asahikawa Station (35 minutes, 620 yen, departures timed with flight arrivals) and then take another bus from there to the zoo (see details above). By car, it takes about 25 minutes from the airport to the zoo. The taxi fare is around 3500-4500 yen one way.
Mid October to early November: 9:30 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00)
Mid November to early April: 10:30 to 15:30 (entry until 15:00)
A few days between the summer and winter seasons:
- November 4 to 10, 2018
- April 8 to 26, 2019
- November 4 to 10, 2019