Translated bySandy Lau
Meet A Giant Panda And Koalas - Only At Kobe Oji Zoo!
Kobe Oji Zoo is famous for being the only zoo in Japan where you can see both pandas and koalas. Loved by the people of Kobe, access to this zoo is exceptional. Here is a guide to the animals you’ll definitely want to meet and the zoo’s attractions.
Written by Osawa Kumi
Kobe Oji Zoo is the country’s only zoo where you can meet both a giant panda and koalas. It is conveniently located ten minutes by train from Sannomiya in central Kobe and is rich in its verdant environment. The zoo boasts over 1,200,000 visitors annually and is the country’s most prominent zoo.
Formerly called Suwayama Zoo, it was established in 1928. Here you can not only sense its longstanding tradition but also its dedication and love for the animals. The park is approximately 80,000 square meters in size, facing away from the Rokko mountain range, and has 800 animals of 130 species within its grounds.
Admission is 600 yen for adults and free for children elementary school aged or younger. Purchase your ticket either at the vending machines or ticket windows and enter the zoo from the middle gates. Let’s leave our belongings in a coin locker before entering.
We will now introduce a few must-see areas of Oji Zoo.
The Highest Number of Flamingos Bred in Japan
Upon entering the main gate, immediately to your left, you will see a group of flamingos. The deep pink flamingos are American Flamingos while the light pink ones are Greater Flamingos. Oji Zoo breeds the most number of flamingos in Japan.
The Best Friends Zuze and Mac
Two Indian elephants are being raised at Oji Zoo. To the left you can see the female elephant Zuze and, to the right with the white tusks, is the male elephant Mac.
Visitors can observe their training time, which is essential for their health maintenance and treatment, every day at around 14:30. Please watch the quick and clever moments these elephants make with their large bodies. This photo is of the elephants being told to sit.
On the top of a pillar is a sunshade and shower made in the image of a large tree. You can see the elephants bath in cold water during hotter seasons.
The Giant Panda Tan Tan
Oji Zoo’s number one star is definitely the giant panda. The panda currently residing at the zoo is the female panda Tan Tan. She was brought to Kobe in 2000 as part of a collaborative research project with China in hopes of reviving the city after the Great Hanshin Earthquake that occurred in 1995. She will become 22 this year (2017).
She eats over fifteen kilograms of fresh bamboo every day supplied from Kobe three times a week.
You can also take a commemorative photo at the entrance of the Panda House too.
Let’s See The Eucalyptus-Eating Koala!
At Oji Zoo, well-known for its success in breeding koalas, there are six koalas under their care (as of 2016).
You can watch the koalas at eye-level in a glass room.
The koalas are most active during early mornings and evenings, so it is a good idea to see the koalas when they are active in the mornings, especially at eleven during their meal time. You might be able to witness them munching away on their favorite eucalyptus leaves.
See Polar Bears From Various Angles
The polar bear exhibit is constructed in a way so that you can observe them whether above ground or underwater. You have to see their lively underwater figures!
You can also enjoy various other animal exhibits such as giraffes, lions, leopards, penguins, hippopotamuses, kangaroos, and more nearby.
Let’s Play in the Amusement Park
Inside the zoo, there is also an amusement park that will bring great joy to small children. There is a merry-go-round, a small roller coaster, and an adorable Ferris wheel where you can enjoy a view of the zoo from above. Rides are around 200 – 300 yen.
The Former Hunter Residence Is an Ideal Photo Spot
In the northmost part of the zoo is the Former Hunter Residence, Kobe’s top-class Western-style residence, which stands out with its light green walls. This British-style residence is said to have been built in the middle of the Meiji period as the private residence of the trader Mr. Hunter. The residence is open to the public in April, May, and October. Tours are free.
Food and Shopping
For food, there is the restaurant Pao Pao and the curry & cafe restaurant Curry Oji. Souvenir shopping can be done at the Panda Plaza and Children’s Plaza. Visitors are also able to bring their own foods, drinks, or lunch boxes to the zoo, so we recommend preparing your meal in advance to enjoy in a picnic atmosphere.
You can enjoy cherry blossoms or autumn foliage during each season at the verdant Oji Zoo. We also received a message from Mr. Fujita, who is in charge of the zoo, “This is a zoo where you can see both koalas and the country’s only giant panda at the same time. Definitely please stop by when you’re in Kobe.” You can enjoy rich exhibits in Oji Zoo all while being located in a convenient area. Definitely, please come and visit Kobe's Oji Zoo.
|Address||Hyogo, Kobe, Nada, Ojicho 3-1|
|Business Time||March ~ October: 9:00 – 17:00 (Final entry is at 16:30) / November ~ February: 9:00 – 16:30 (Final entry is at 16:00)|
|Fixed holidays||Every Wednesday (will open instead during a national holiday) / End-of-Year period during December 29 – January 1 / The zoo may also be open on special dates during spring or summer vacation|
|Accepted Credit Cards||Not Available|
|Menu/Pamphlets in Other Languages||Available in English|
|Nearest station||Hankyu Train at Oji Park Station / JR Nada Station|
|Access||3 minute walk west from Hankyu Train Oji Park Station / 5 minute walk north from JR Nada Station|
|Price||600 yen for adults, free for children elementary school aged or younger|
|Website||Kobe Oji Zoo (Japanese)|