The east gate of Asahiyama Zoo
October, as the autumn leaves colours were deepening, our writer visited Asahiyama Zoo with her children and some friends. The temperature on this day was 13 ℃. Even though it's not as cold as during winter, you might feel chilly after walking outside for a while. Our reporter recommends wearing windbreaker clothes or a jumper with gloves.
On this day, she entered the zoo from the east gate, at the highest point of the mountain. After going through the entrance, you can overlook the town of Asahikawa. When the weather is nice, the view is spectacular.
Unfortunately it is raining on this day, but the view on Asahikawa is still great. There are some autumn leaves left.
Hokkaido Animals House
At the "Hokkaido Animal House," which is located between the East gate and the West gate, animals living in Hokkaido are exhibited.
The owl was so cute that our writer stopped for a while to observe it. Since the owl’s coat colour is similar to the perch it's standing on, you may miss it at first glance.
It's really cute to see several birds facing the same direction while sleeping!
This very small owl is a Konohazuku, an eurasian scops owl.
In front of the fence, there is a senryu like this. « Nocturnal animals are during daytime the hidden ghosts of trees » (Yakosei hiru wa ki ni bake kakurenbo)
This senryu sums up well the characteristics of this owl.
As you can see on the signboard, Hokkaido is an owl kingdom. There are 12 species of owls in Japan, and 10 species have been confirmed living in Hokkaido.
The penguin House
During winter, you can enjoy seeing penguins walking on the snow at the Penguin House. There, there are breed four types of penguins: King Penguins, Gentoo Penguins, Humboldt Penguins, and Rockhopper Penguins.
To be honest, the penguins' characteristics and names don't match, but we can watch them all day long without getting tired of it. Our writer’s son, a kindergartener, couldn’t take his eyes off the penguins either.
Perhaps he was able to see himself in the little penguins.
He gently said, « Baby penguins are cute » afterwards.
Inside the Penguins Hall, there is an underwater tunnel where you can go through. From inside the tunnel, you can see the penguins swimming in the water.
The baby penguins who where walking with difficulty on land were swimming freely everywhere.
Our reporter was able to see even more penguins this day than when she visited before.
Asahiyama Zoo Express Train Square
On the way down the slope from the East gate to the West gate, there is a building where « Asahiyama Zoo Express Train Square » is written. This is a facility that reproduces the world viewed from the special express train named "Asahiyama Zoo" of JR Hokkaido that once ran between Sapporo and Asahikawa.
There is a hugging chair that was actually used in the train, a corner where you can take a commemorative photo, and a kids corner where children can take off their shoes and play.
In the center of the building is the Asahiyama Zoo's railroad scaled model and diorama. The scaled model actually move, and the train runs at a fixed time.
In the diorama, Asahikawa Station and the town of Asahikawa are replicated in detail, letting both adults and children in awe.
The interior of the Asahiyama Zoo Express Train Square is said to have been created under Hiroshi Abe’s directions. He is a picture book writer, who designed the train.
Abe-san's pop and bright illustrations shine on the white-based walls and pillars, creating a fun atmosphere.
The children happily chased the moving model and ran around it many times. There were also families and couples sitting in the colourful seats while taking commemorative photos.
When you get tired of watching animals outside, you may want to sit in a chair in the Asahiyama Zoo Express Train Square to rest.
Address: Kuranuma, Higashiasahikawa-cho, Asahikawa-shi (Usage guide / map)
Winter business days: November 11, 2020 (Wednesday) - April 7, 2021 (Wednesday)
Winter hours: 10: 30-15: 30 (last admission / 15:00)
Official site: https://www.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp/asahiyamazoo/index.html
Asahiyama Zoo is where you can see the different expressions of the animals every time you visit
Asahiyama Zoo has many other attractions besides the ones introduced this time.
Every time our writer go there, she makes new discoveries and feels the depth of animals and nature.
Whether you live in Asahikawa or not, please come and experience the charm of Asahiyama Zoo.
The zoo is very cold during the winter, so be sure to come with warm clothes on you!
Translated from Miya’s article.