Excerpts from Japan: Nogeyama Zoological Gardens, Yokohama

Red Panda

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.

Group of Pigeons Pigeons Overhead

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.

Crow Pigeon

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.

Male Peacock Male Peacock Male Peacock Male Peacock

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.

Albino Peacock Albino Peacock Albino Peacock

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!

Mandarin Duck Mandarin Duck Mandarin Duck Duck Black-faced Spoonbill Black-faced Spoonbill

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.

Red Panda Red Panda Red Panda Red Panda Red Panda Pheasant Raccoon Dog Deer Wallabies Giraffe

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!

White Mice White Mice Guinea Pig Guinea Pig

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!

Chimpanzee Chimpanzee Black-and-white Colobus Black-and-white Colobus

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.

Ostrich Duck Flamingo

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!]


30 thoughts on “Excerpts from Japan: Nogeyama Zoological Gardens, Yokohama

  1. Great photos. I love how you’ve captured so much character in the faces of the various animals. I particularly like the kangaroo that’s clearly watched a lot of shiatsu demonstrations on NHK and is practicing it on their buddy.

    1. Thank you! Animals make such wonderful subjects in photography. Those kangaroos (they’re actually wallabies) were being quite frisky! They were very amusing to watch.

      1. Argh, I took a gamble and got it wrong. I bet for Wallabies calling them a Kangaroo is like calling an Australian a New Zealander or English (especially bad during the Ashes).

    1. Thank you, Mike! Aren’t the Mandarin ducks just gorgeous? They are actually quite special in traditional Chinese culture because they are thought to mate for life, unlike other duck species, and hence symbolise fidelity.

    1. I feel that red pandas are often overshadowed by their giant black-and-white cousins, which is a real shame! They are absolutely adorable and have such beautiful colouration! Did you know they are now classified as an endangered species? They’re losing their homes from deforestation…

    1. I would have loved to put up at least one picture for each animal, but some of them were kept in such pitiful enclosures that I decided not to. I guess I just chose the better pictures to display here.

  2. Love your site! That’s so cool that you got into the zoo for free! My favorite pics were of the red pandas. I saw those while I lived in Hong Kong. They are so cute!

  3. Thank you for dropping by my page and leading me here. You have just given me some ideas where to go in Yokohama for a trip next month. Beautiful photos, by the way. :)

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