Higashiyama Zoo and Skytower

It was such a beautiful sunny day and I was super excited to be heading to Higashiyama Zoo, Botanical Gardens and Sky tower. A short 30ish minute trip and I was climbing the stairs out of the subway and into the glistening sun. Everything was great. I paid my admission fee, got my English guide to the zoo and walked through the gates.

Then I saw the rhinoceros’. Lying there in the muddy enclosure with what liked like huge sadness in their eyes, lying still to humour everyone who has paid to stop, stare and point at them. I’m not an animal whisperer, and I’ve never seen different emotions of a rhinoceros, but as I stood there trying to capture this sad moment of the huge, heavy animal lying in the mud on its own whilst its mates were sectioned off in different cages, my mood saddened and I felt sorry for the animals.

And my mood stayed this way as I went from exhibit to exhibit, looking in at the polar bear with less water to swim in than would fit in my spa bath, at the kangaroos whose bones were sticking out like pointy sticks, the baby elephant and its mum stuck in a small cage, and so on.20140512-230924.jpg
I’d be lying if I said all of the animals looked like they were hating being there, the giraffes definitely looked more than happy in their field munching on leaves, and the bears were having a playful time with each other which looked happy enough.
The zoo itself is huge. It has so many different types of animals… in fact I got really worn out from walking through all of the sections. There was the carnivore house, the American continent corner, the small bird and squirrel forest, the bear house (just to name a few) and the vivarium where I saw some Australian animals which I didn’t even know existed, giggled that they had an exhibit on the common rat, and hyperventilated when I was surrounded by the snake tanks thinking how lucky I was not to be Harry Potter at this point in time so the glass would stay intact.

The zoo is also attached to the Botanical Gardens which were pretty, but unfortunately I didn’t feel like wandering through the different paths for long as I hadn’t had any lunch and was running out of energy and willpower to keep on walking. I did however spend a bit of time in the Higashiyama Sky tower, resting on one of the couches at a viewing point on level 5.

Higashiyama Sky tower is a famous landmark in Nagoya and in the corner of the park which is one of Japan’s largest parks! The Sky tower which is 134m tall provided a nice view of the city, the park and some of the mountains close by including the Central Alps. 20140512-231803.jpg
My overall thoughts of the zoo are that it was a pretty cheap day out, providing hours of things to do, but I thought the zoo itself was a bit run down. It had a smell in some areas which I haven’t smelt in the zoo
and some exhibits looked like they hadn’t been maintained in a while. Some of the animals did look pretty sad and were in what I thought were extremely small enclosures, but this, unlike the smells and maintenance is not unique to this zoo. And last but not least, the ice cream was really yummy… I had some serious thinking time at the gorilla exhibit watching them climb, fight and relax while I was munching away on my yummy vanilla soft serve ice cream.

You can get to the zoo from Nagoya on the Higashiyama subway line, getting off at Higashiyama Koen. An adult ticket to the zoo, botanical gardens and Sky tower costs ¥640 or for just the zoo and garden you will pay ¥500. Kids (junior high school or younger) get in for free… No wonder there were so many of them running around!

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