On one of our final few days in Yokohama, we decided to visit the Nogeyama Zoological Gardens (野毛山動物園, Nogeyama Dōbutsuen), located about 3 kilometres away from where we were staying at the time. The walk took us the better part of an hour (we got fairly lost halfway through), but the journey was well worth the effort. The skies were blue and the sun was out; a nice change from the dark and damp weather we’d been having for most of our stay in Japan.
The Nogeyama Zoological Gardens first opened its gates to visitors over 60 years ago. It is located on a hill in Nogeyama Park, Nishi-ku (西区). Covering a modest 9.6 hectares, it houses about a thousand animals of about 90 different species. That’s pretty decent for a little zoo tucked away in a rather secluded corner of Yokohama.
I mentioned that we got lost on our journey to the zoo. Why? Because locating it was quite difficult. It is connected to a large public park that is, unfortunately, situated on fairly hilly grounds, so it may be a bit of a climb to get there. This is perhaps why we found the area to be so quiet and devoid of people.
One of the things that wowed us was that we could just walk into the zoo without paying a cent. Yup, there was no entrance fee. Nogeyama Zoo is entirely free for you to enter and leave as you please! What was even better for us was that the zoo didn’t seem at all crowded. Apart from the animals, it was almost deserted. This gave us the perfect opportunity to wander the zoo in peace and take our sweet time viewing the animals without fighting for a spot in front of the enclosures.
One of the first enclosures we came to was filled with a number of different types water birds such as ducks and spoonbills. The Mandarin ducks were definitely my favourite. Such striking features and unusual colours!
Other animals that we came across include chimpanzees, baboons, raccoon dogs (tanuki), black-and-white colobuses, pheasants, peacocks, swans, reptiles, wallabies, vultures, ostriches, deer, zebra, flamingos, giraffes, camels, tigers, lions, and the ever-popular little red pandas.
We also came across a small petting zoo, where you can let your kids touch (and even groom) several kinds of small animals like mice, guinea pigs and baby chicks. Of course, the concept is adorable, but I feel that putting tiny creatures in a child’s grasp could potentially spell disaster. I don’t believe little three-year-olds would know how to properly handle a baby chick. They could very easily squeeze one to death!
In a way, the zoo can be a little bit depressing. Some of the cages are much too small for the animals. One thing I would like to see in the future is the zoo acquiring more appropriate enclosures for the larger animals like the primates and big cats. It was upsetting to see two fully grown lions (one male, one female) living in a cage barely big enough for movement!
Unfavourable living conditions and awkward location aside, I would say that the zoo is pretty decent for one so small, especially since it doesn’t cost anything to get in.
NOGEYAMA ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS
63-10 Oimatsu-cho, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi,
Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 220-0032
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 4:00pm (Tuesday – Sunday)
Other excerpts from Japan:
Rain Over Sawtooth Mountain || Golden Week in Yokohama
The Vivid Colours of Tokyo || Blue Skies Over Picturesque Ueno Park
Nakamise Street and Tokyo Tower || The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace
Daidaiya @ Queen’s Square Yokohama [at!]