Meet the Cute Animals of Hokkaido at Asahiyama Zoo

On the northern island of Hokkaido, the Asahiyama Zoo, also known as Asahikawa Zoo, brings together animals native to the island, and exotic non-native animals, to give you one of the best animal experiences in Japan. In this article we’ll discuss the zoo, the animals it holds and general information, so you can visit Asahiyama Zoo yourself.

On Display at Asahiyama Zoo

Opened in 1967, Asahiyama Zoo has a long history in the area. Opening with 75 different species of animal, the zoo has tried many ways to bring in new visitors, including a now-defunct roller coaster which was taken down in 2006.

In 1997, due to the declining visitor numbers, the zoo started to create unique interactive animal viewing facilities, like the Polar Bear Glass Dome. This has helped put the zoo on the map and made it the second most visited zoo in Japan, behind Ueno Zoo in downtown Tokyo.

Asahiyama Zoo, located just outside of the town of Asahikawa, is the perfect place to bring your family and learn about the native species from the Hokkaido area. With native deer, owls, wolves, fish and cranes given the opportunity to frolic around in open spaces, rather than be caged up, Asahiyama Zoo offers a unique way to watch and learn about these native Japanese creatures.

Not only does Asahiyama Zoo have native creatures, but also offers up non-native animals to see. Some of the biggest draw cards are the Polar Bear Glass Dome, the Seal Glass Tube and a walk-through Penguin Aquarium.

The Polar Bear enclosure gives visitors the opportunity to see the bears swim and play underwater, a one of a kind exhibit in Japan. The Seal Glass Tubes lets you see the seals from a vertical tube as it swims majestically through it. Walking through the Penguin Aquarium lets you see penguin swim around above you like they’re flying, doing so after the Penguin Parade can bring you closer to penguins than ever before.

Asahiyama Zoo Penguin Parade Schedule

Asahiyama Zoo Penguin Parade Schedule

The Asahiyama Zoo Penguin Parade schedule is only open in the winter time, due to the climate the animals are used to. This is one of the biggest events of the zoo, but isn’t to show off the Emperor Penguins, it’s their exercise.

This means that depending on the weather, the mood of the penguins and their health, they might all do the walk, or only some will. The zoo usually starts the parade from the second half of December to the middle of March two times a day, at 11:00 am and 2:30 pm and goes for at least 30 minutes. Though check at the zoo and on the website for exact times and details.

Charting the Way with the Asahiyama Zoo Map

On display around the area is an Asahiyama Zoo Map, which you can also get in a pamphlet. This map shows you where all the enclosures are, and also the walking track for the penguins if you’re coming in winter. While the map is in Japanese, you should be able to make out where everything is. If not, Google Maps has a basic English outline of the Asahiyama Zoo Map if you zoom far enough into the spot.

Asahiyama Zoo Time and Asahiyama Zoo Duration

The Asahiyama Zoo Time and Asahiyama Zoo Duration depends on the time of the year you plan to visit the zoo. From April to mid-October, the zoo opens at 9:30 am and last entry is at 4:00 pm, with the zoo closing at 5:15 pm.

From mid-October to early November, they keep the same times, but with the zoo closing at 4:30 pm instead. During the winter months, from early November to last March, the zoo opens at 10:30 am and last entries at 3:00 pm, with the zoo closing at 3:30 pm.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Asahiyama Zoo
  • Street address: Kuranuma, Higashi Asahikawacho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 078-8205
  • Access: From Asahiyama Station, take the Asahiyama Zoo Line Bus numbered 41, 42 or 47