Top animal attractions
Japan’s oldest and most popular zoo welcomed Xiangxiang, a newborn panda cub, in June 2017. But it’s not all about the pandas: the zoo has a large variety of exotic animals, with the Gorilla and Tiger Woods providing particularly thrilling face-to-face experiences. The grounds is split into two parts comfortably accessible by monorail. After your visit, take a stroll around the park vicinity to get your hands on some one-of-a-kind panda-shaped goodies or pastries from some of the shops and street vendors.
¥600, junior high students ¥200, free for primary school students or younger.
This 52-hectare park is much loved for its beautiful open setting, with enclosures connected up by shuttle buses. Alongside the three ecological areas (African, Australian and Asian Zones), the zoo has an insectarium, housing a variety of 350 species – be brave and try touching some of the exotic creatures!
After checking out the creepy-crawlies, head over to the nearby butterfly house and gaze at swarms of colourful beauties. Finally, don’t miss out on seeing the graceful-looking snow leopards, which live right at the back of the Asian Zone. There’s a huge amount to take in at Tama – we suggest setting aside a whole day for this one-of-a-kind zoo experience.
¥600, junior high students ¥200, free for children aged 12 or under.
Neighbouring Inokashira Park, this small zoo is especially popular for its adorable animal species, such as fennecs, Tsushima leopard cats, squirrels, capybaras, cranes and raccoon dogs. Meanwhile, pet lovers can encounter a horde of squeaking guinea pigs ready to be stroked by visitors of all ages (daily from 10am-11.30am and 1.30pm-3pm). You’ll be glad to know that the zoo runs a conservation programme of Tsushima leopard cats. Finish your visit by taking a break at the charming Hanako Café and picking up some adorable souvenirs, such as guinea pig plush toys and the zoo’s special tote bags.
This cosy little zoo is located in Edogawa’s Gyosen Park and primarily houses smaller animals. The highlight for most kids is the petting zoo which opens its gates twice a day and is home to rabbits, guinea pigs, goats and sheep. Right next to the zoo is the Heisei Garden, an oasis of calm featuring a small teahouse, a Japanese garden and a large pond – the ideal place to relax and forget the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s streets.
With its convenient location not far from Enoshima island, the aquarium adds a perfect dash of adventure to your day trip. It has the most extraordinary variety of sea creatures, and is especially known for its jellyfish.
While strolling around, make sure to stock up on some snacks which come in cute shapes and interesting flavours – the turtle-shaped melon bread and the jellyfish fantasy soda are highly recommended. Workshops and touch pools are the biggest highlight for kids. The official app of the aquarium offers an audio guide, the schedule for all the shows, a map and coupons, so make sure to download before coming here.
¥1,500 (student ID necessary), primary and junior high students ¥1,000, children aged three or older ¥600, free for younger children.
Watch out for ‘flying’ penguins! Located on top of the Sunshine City complex, this partially open-air oasis opened its remodelled penguin area last year. Take a stroll under a giant water tank and spot penguins overhead with Tokyo’s cityscape as the backdrop – a breathtaking view you won’t find anywhere else. Another new feature is the skywalk, housing pelicans which are especially fun to check out during feeding time.
Other popular spots include the deep blue Jellyfish Tunnel and the Sunshine Lagoon, a huge tank with a wide variety of fish. When it comes to snack time, you’ll love the light blue-coloured sea salt soft serve ice cream, made from Okinawa’s ‘snow salt’.
¥2,200, primary and junior high students ¥1,200, children aged four or older ¥700, free for younger children.
Tokyo Sea Life Park’s glass dome (where the entrance is) doesn’t give out much, but wait until you take the escalator down to where the exhibits are. This place aims to recreate aquatic environments from around the world, and features sea creatures from across the globe as well as from local areas including Tokyo Bay. The aquarium’s most popular attraction is a 2,200 ton doughnut-shaped tank which is home to an enormous shoal of bluefin tuna – watching them swirl majestically around will leave you speechless. Meanwhile, seabird lovers can check out large auks, puffins and one of Japan’s biggest penguin exhibition. And if you’re brave enough, try touching the starfish, sea urchins and other sturdy creatures at the small hands-on area. Before leaving, you should stop and marvel at the dazzling view over Tokyo Bay from the cafeteria, while munching on some cake or seafood curry.
¥700, ¥250 junior high students, free for younger children.
This charming brand-new cat café introduces you to a whole new level of cuteness. Located within the themed shopping and food ‘village’ Kichijouji Petit Mura, the facade looks like the castle of a magical cat-kingdom straight from a book of fairy tales. A selection of 20 cats are on hand to be cuddled, and offer highly Instagrammable photo opportunities, especially at feeding time. When it comes to snacks, the smart money’s on the tasty parfaits garnished with cute cat-shaped cookies.
¥1,200, ¥1,600 Sat, Sun & hols, ¥700 from 7pm (all prices excluding tax).
Relaxing with little hedgehogs is high on many a traveller’s Tokyo must-do list, and this new Shibuya spot adds to the selection of cafés offering that very opportunity. At ChikuChikuCafe you can feed, touch and take photos with the little cuties under the guidance of the staff. The furry friends totter around in environments modelled on bathrooms, classrooms and Japanese-style tatami rooms – it’s like a collection of doll houses for hedgehogs!
Ikebukuro’s Ikefukurou Café is the place to meet fluffy owls. The name itself is a pun on Ikebukuro and fukurou (owl in Japanese). A large number of different types of owls is waiting for you to pet them and carry them around. The café is rather small, but still spacious enough for you to take some adorable photos of you and your new feathered friend.
¥1,500, ¥1,600 Sat, Sun & hols.
To round off your animal café adventure, stop by Hutch Asakusa, a bunny theme park housing 21 adorable furry fellows. There are three entry plans available: we recommend the ‘hug plan’ which allows you to cuddle with your favourite bunny as long as you want and get a souvenir photo taken. The patient and knowledgeable staff will guide you through the experience.
From ¥2,160, ¥1,080 for children.