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- Address: 7-1-1 Hodokubo
- Hours: Thurs-Tues 9:30am-5:00pm
- Admission: Adults: 600 yen; Children: free-200 yen
If you find the site of animals in small cages depressing, Tama Zoological park, one hour outside of Tokyo, will perk you right up. Spread out over 129 acres, animals are free to roam in spacious naturalistic habitats. It's a great place to observe native Japanese animals like macaques, Sika deer and Yezo brown bears as well as more exotic species from around the world.
The zoo is split into four major sections: the Asiatic Garden, African Garden, Australian Garden and Insectarium. Tokyo has a special relationship with its international twin area of New South Wales, so the Australia section is particularly well outfitted with koalas, kangaroos and more. Other highlights include a reproduction Asian swampland, a successful elephant breeding program and a lion bus which allows visitors to view the lions in a safari setting.
Tama Zoo opens 9:30am-5pm (tickets sold until 4) and closes every Wednesday (closes Thursday if Wednesday is a public holiday). The zoo is closed from December 29-January 1. Adults (16-64) 600 yen, seniors (65+) 300 yen, students (13-15) 200 yen and children (0-12) get in free. It is advised that you take trains on holidays and weekends. From Keio Line's Shinjuku Station, take the express train, change trains at Takahata-Fudo station and get off at Tama Dobutsu Koen Station (about an hour's ride). From Tachikawa Station, take the Tama Monorail and get off at Tama Dobutsu Koen Station (about 20 minutes' ride). There are no parking lots, but there are toll ones in the vicinity.