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[Himeji City] “Himeji Central Park” A safari and amusement park that mixes nostalgia and newness

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``Himeji Central Park'' is nicknamed ``Hime-sen''. It is Himeji's representative leisure spot, with safaris, an amusement park, and pools and fireworks in the summer. The park opened in 1984 and is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary in March 2024.

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40th anniversary of opening! "Himeji Central Park"

Himeji Central Park opened in 1984 (Showa 59). This leisure facility is located in the mountains of Toyotomi-cho, east of Himeji City, and the site area of ​​the safari park and amusement park combined is the size of 48 Koshien baseball stadiums.

It has become popular as a safari park that you can enjoy in your own car, and when it first opened, there was heavy traffic congestion on the surrounding roads.

amusement park gate<br>
amusement park gate

40 years have passed since then. Himeji Central Park is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

If you're thinking, "Is that so?" or "I've been there before," I'd like you to reacquaint yourself with Himeji Central Park. Of course, it is also recommended for first-timers.

In this article, we'll introduce you to a classic model course that takes you on a safari, an amusement park, and even a night pool at Aquaria, which is only available in the summer, before returning home after watching fireworks.

Let's start with the safari

Himeji Central Park is full of fun things to do, including safaris, an amusement park, a pool in the summer, and skating in the winter. You are free to choose how you want to enjoy it, but there are some recommended ways to enjoy it.

A safari is recommended in the morning. It depends on the type of animal, but they are most energetic in the morning. Especially in the summer, animals often spend their time in the shade of trees during the day due to the heat.

The first gate you pass through. I parked on the side until the park opened, and when the time came, I paid the parking fee and passed through.<br>
The first gate you pass through. I parked on the side until the park opened, and when the time came, I paid the parking fee and passed through.

Speaking of Himeji Central Park's safari, it's the "drive-through safari." A safari in your own car is a great option for small children, elderly people who have difficulty walking, and even on rainy days.

If you are visiting the park in a group or by bus, we recommend the safari bus. The bus has wide windows and allows you to see it from a slightly higher perspective.

For those who enjoy the safari in their own car or those who only enjoy the safari, pass through the gate, turn left, and proceed toward the safari park. Those who enjoy the safari buses, rides, and amusement parks head straight to the amusement park.

Vehicle body for

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Vehicle body for "adventure ride". Comes with an observation deck

The most talked-about safari at the moment is ``Ride'' (there are ``Safari the Ride'' and ``Adventure Ride''). We board a caged bus, commonly known as an ``Olibus,'' which is full of excitement, and enter the beast zone, hanging meat that serves as a snack for tigers and lions.

Doesn't your heart skip a beat just hearing it?

Snacks (meat) on the roof<br>
Snacks (meat) on the roof

The currently popular rides, ``Safari the Ride'' and ``Adventure Ride,'' are 60-minute safaris in a special vehicle called ``Olibus.''

There are two differences.

One is that the course changes partially, and the types of animals that approach you are different.

The second thing is the shape of the bus. "Safari the Ride" is an early version where the ceiling also became a cage. You can experience the thrill of watching a lion walking right above your head and eating food. The "Adventure Ride" (pictured) has an observation deck on the ceiling, so you can get the thrill of coming face to face with the tigers at the same height.

Inside the “Adventure Ride”<br>
Inside the “Adventure Ride”

Both were spent 60 minutes standing in a caged car. It shakes quite a bit. Even if it rains, there is no roof, so wear a raincoat and have fun.

This time we will introduce "Adventure Ride". "Olibus" with an observation deck. You won't know how much fun it is until you actually experience it, but I'll show you some pictures.

cheetah found<br>
cheetah found

The bus will proceed from the beast zone to cheetahs, tigers, and lions in that order. A tiger wanders overhead in search of meat placed on the car body.

Seeing a tiger up close is still scary.

There are also white tigers.

I made eye contact with a tiger looking for meat. It's still scary.

But if you look closely, it's quite cute.

A lion comes to you in search of the meat hanging from your side. A great presence. It's a little scary.

But it's pretty cute.

After the beast zone is the herbivore zone. Even the timid giraffes come close to you. The giraffe feeding experience is also popular.

You can also see familiar zoo animals such as hippos, rhinos, zebras, camels, and buffalo up close as they spend their time relaxing in the wide grassland.

A hippopotamus begging for food from its favorite keeper<br>
A hippopotamus begging for food from its favorite keeper

A quick 60 minutes where you can meet lots of animals. What I introduced is an example of the hon.

A ride where you can even feel the breathing of the animals. You can have a completely different experience from the zoo. Safari buses and rides arrive at the bus stop inside the safari park. You can enjoy a ``Walking Safari'' where you can enjoy walking as if you were in a zoo, or a ``Sky Safari'' where you can take a ropeway and see the safari park from above. Those who wish to return to the amusement park can board the tour bus from the bus stop.

Lunch time at a facility with a rich menu

After enjoying the safari park, it was time for lunch. There are several facilities where you can eat at both the safari park and the amusement park. Although there is no specialty, there are everything from snacks to lunch, and it can be used as a rest area as well as a cafe.

Inside the family restaurant ``Azzurro'' in the amusement park. You can eat udon, curry, and children's lunch.

Go to the amusement park in the afternoon!

When most people think of Himesen, they think of safari. The local people of Himeji may be aware of the existence of the amusement park, but may be approaching its 40th anniversary without realizing how amazing it is.

Actually, my memory also stopped at "Diablo." Today, Himesen's amusement park is a space that seems to be a mix of nostalgia and newness. It has become an amusement park known only to those in the know, and people come from far and wide to visit.

There are five roller coasters, including Diablo (a suspended coaster with no legs attached, which was Japan's first when it was in operation), boasting a lineup comparable to that of a large-scale amusement park.

Venus GP starts operations in 2022<br>
Venus GP starts operations in 2022

Especially popular is "Venus GP". This is a large roller coaster with a vertical loop, and the load on your body is 5.2G, one of the largest in Japan. A high-speed drop after climbing to about 36m above the ground. It's an extremely experiential coaster that rises and falls, going round and round with twists and loops that you feel as if it's barely touching the ground, and you'll lose track of where you're going, up, down, left, and right.

It was designed by Anton Schwarzkopf, also known as the ``coaster god.''

Previously, it was the most popular roller coaster that had been loved for many years at Space World (Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, closed in 2018), and was relocated after the park closed. For this reason, there are people from Kyushu who visit every year out of nostalgia. There are many people who become addicted to it, and others who are so scared that they can't do it anymore. The coaster "Hurricane" is also a relocated group.

On rainy weekdays, Hurricane may be reserved for private use.

This is a relocated version of the Tornader that was previously located at the Kintetsu Ayame Pond Amusement Park (Nara City, Nara Prefecture, closed in 2004). Although the colors etc. have been changed, it seems that people who are familiar with it can understand it.

“Imorinsu” is popular among kids.<br>
“Imorinsu” is popular among kids.

The old name "roller coaster" is still alive and well. ``Imorinsu'' is a coaster for kids, and it is one of the most popular coasters, as it can be ridden by children over 2 years old (accompanied children under 6 years old).

There are also plenty of other thrilling rides such as the ``Great Poseidon,'' which has a rocking boat, and the ``Helios,'' which has a cute and heartwarming BGM, but is actually hard.

Attraction for kids. Front

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Attraction for kids. Front "Paopao", back "Albatross"

Of course, there are also the nostalgic ``Party Cups'' and ``Merry-Go-Round.'' Moreover, there are two merry-go-rounds. The Ferris wheel is still in the top 10 in Japan (according to Himeji Central Park research).

In addition to rides, you'll wonder how many facilities there are, including animal shows and a 4D theater. You won't be able to enjoy it all in just one day.

Summer is full of fireworks at the pool.

Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park<br>
Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park

Summer Himesen will open Aquaria, one of the largest resort pools in western Japan. Business hours in 2023 will be from July 15th (Saturday) to September 3rd (Sunday). The location is inside an amusement park. No special charges are required. With just an admission ticket, you can enter the pool, play at the amusement park, and even go on a safari. (The same goes for winter ice skating)

Aquaria is recommended for relaxing in the running water pool, and the large beach pool will make you feel like playing on the beach. There is a rock pool with a great view, five types of slides, and a Pirate Kids Aquaria for children, so you can play safely and have fun.

There is a fee, but there is also a family deck (large tent) limited to 20 groups (first come, first served) and a sun deck (limited quantity), so you can enjoy the resort feeling.

Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park<br>
Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park

At night, it's night pool time. It is a spot where you can take photogenic photos.

Summer night pool information

Event dates: Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from July 15, 2023 (Saturday) to September 3, 2023 (Sunday), and 5 days from August 11, 2023 (Friday) to August 15, 2023 (Tuesday) (Obon period)

Opening hours: 17:00-20:00 (Only the beach pool, rock pool, and kids pool are open), daytime pool registration closes at 16:00, various slides registration closes at 16:00 (sliders do not operate during night pool), water release ( running water pool, slider, etc.) 16:30 (Please get out of the pool and move to the night pool area)

Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park<br>
Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park

Himesen ends with fireworks. Approximately 2,000 fireworks will decorate the night sky with a display of lights and lasers.

The music and other performances change on odd and even days, so it might be a good idea to come every week.

Fireworks event information

Midsummer Fireworks Festa 2023

Event dates: Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from July 15, 2023 (Saturday) to September 3, 2023 (Sunday), and 5 days from August 11, 2023 (Friday) to August 15, 2023 (Tuesday) (Obon period)

Event time: 7:50pm - approximately 10 minutes

Souvenirs are also full of unusual fun.

The most popular souvenir “White chocolate tart cookies” (16 pieces, 1,080 yen)<br>
The most popular souvenir “White chocolate tart cookies” (16 pieces, 1,080 yen)

Himesen also has unique souvenirs.

Popular souvenirs are cookies and crunches, packaged sweets that are typical of a serious Himesen, but for those who aren't satisfied with the ordinary ones, try the ``Safari Cookies'' (800 yen). Contains one large chocolate flavored one.

Our original all-purpose sauce ``Perorin Sauce'' (710 yen) and ``Adult Perorin Sauce'' (870 yen) are also popular items with many repeat customers.

After interacting with the animals, we have a selection that will satisfy those who want stuffed animals.

There are also many other original goods and products that you'll want just because you've come to Hime-sen.

Adventure ride netsuke (520 yen)<br>
Adventure ride netsuke (520 yen)

Himesen ticket information

Himesen is so much fun. Many people may be concerned about the price.

Please check the official website for more details, but I will briefly explain it.

There are no tickets for just the safari park or just for the amusement park; the ticket is based on an "admission ticket." Fees vary depending on the date of admission.

Admission ticket: Adults (junior high school students and older) 3,600 to 4,400 yen per day, children (elementary school students) 2,000 to 2,400 yen, infants (3 years old and older) 1,200 to 1,400 yen.

Additional fees include parking fees (1,000 yen for regular cars), attraction fees, and safari bus ride fees.

Attractions can be purchased individually, but there is also an ``Attraction Free Pass'' (3,000 yen for adults) . Venus GP is 1,500 yen per ride, so if you want to enjoy coaster-type attractions, the ``Attraction Free Pass'' is definitely a good deal .

However, some rides may not operate during rainy days, so it is best to purchase according to your purpose.

This is Hime Sen who can't play all in one day. Once you come, you'll want to come again. If you come more than three times a year, we recommend the ``Annual Admission Pass'' (12,000 yen for adults) or the ``Annual Admission Pass + Attraction Free Pass'' (19,000 yen for adults).

From 2023, a new ``Premium Annual Pass'' (50,000 yen) that comes with a lot of free benefits has also been released. If you're thinking, ``I have to try it out before I decide whether to buy the annual pass,'' you can upgrade after you enter the park, so just give it a try.

How to access Himeji Central Park

Himesen 40th anniversary wrapping bus. The animal bus in this photo is used to shuttle employees in the morning and is also used as a safari bus during the day. (Buses that customers cannot ride during the day may be used as shuttle vehicles.)<br>
Himesen 40th anniversary wrapping bus. The animal bus in this photo is used to shuttle employees in the morning and is also used as a safari bus during the day. (Buses that customers cannot ride during the day may be used as shuttle vehicles.)

Access information

Himeji Central Park is located in the mountains of Toyotomi-cho, east of Himeji City, but if you're driving, it's close to the Sanyo Expressway and Bantan Contact Road IC. However, public transportation will be limited to buses.

To take the route bus, take route 74 bound for Himeji Central Park from platform 14 at Himeji Station (north exit) . The park opens at 10 a.m. (9:30 a.m. in summer), so we recommend taking the first train at 9:30 a.m. (arriving at 10:05 a.m.). The last bus on the way back (the bus stop is on the amusement park side) is at 17:00 on weekdays and 18:20 on weekends and holidays. The fare is 550 yen for adults one way.

The ``Hyogo Amazing Pass'' is a convenient and economical option for foreign visitors tourists visiting Japan that allows unlimited rides on Shinki Bus routes for 1,000 yen a day.

Click here for details and to purchase the discounted ticket “Hyogo Amazing Pass”

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Would you like to sightsee empty-handed?

(Writer Takashi Tsukamoto)

*This article is information as of July 2023. Prices include tax. Product contents and prices may change.

basic information

Himeji Central Park

Address: 1434 Okura, Kamiya, Toyotomi-cho, Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture

Phone number: 079-264-1611

Business hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (summer weekdays 9:30 - 18:00, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 9:30 - 20:00), reception ends 1 hour before closing

*Subject to change depending on admission date. Please refer to the official website

Closed: Wednesdays/Irregular holidays

*Changes depending on the season (closed in summer, etc.) *Please refer to the official website as there may be temporary closures.

Admission fee: Adults (junior high school students and older) 3,600 to 4,400 yen per day, Children (elementary school students) 2,000 to 2,400 yen, Infants (3 years old and older) 1,200 to 1,400 yen

*Subject to change depending on admission date. Please refer to the official website

*Separate attraction fee required Access car: Approximately 25 minutes from JR Himeji Station, approximately 5 minutes from Sanyo Expressway "Sanyo Himeji Higashi IC", approximately 15 minutes from Bantan Access Road "Hanada IC" Bus Himeji Station (North Exit) 14 Approximately 30 minutes from bus stop 74 bound for Himeji Central Park to Himeji Central Park. Direct flights available in summer

*For details, please refer to the official website or Shinki Bus official website

Parking: Available (1,000 yen/vehicle), approximately 5,000 parking spaces available

Official site here

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