Aasahiyama Zoo

Aasahiyama Zoo

Travel Guide

Asahiyama Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in Japan and Japan's northernmost zoo. Located only 15 minutes out of Asahikawa and 60 minutes from Furano, Asahiyama Zoo is known for its unique facilities where visitors can observe and interact with animals. Cages and tanks are designed and set in a way that visitors see animals’ behavior and habits. Spotted seals swim in a cylindrical tank vertically. You see dynamic dive of polar bears through glass. At the penguin aquarium, visitors can walk through a glass tunnel looking at penguins gliding through the water. The zoo has 815 animals belonging to 150 species.

Asahiyama Zoo is operated by Asahikawa City. It opened in 1967 and the number of visitors increased year by year until the mid 1990’s until echinococcosis broke out. Visitor numbers decreased and the zoo was on the brink of closing.

Director Masao Kosuge and other staff members came up with the idea that could attract visitors. He and his talented staff formulated enclosure ideas specifically focused on exhibiting the animals' behavior, not simply the animals themselves. The enclosure enables visitors to see the animals’ natural behaviors up close. The penguin enclosure for example affords a 360 degree view. There is a vertical tank for the spotted seal which prefers to dive and surface vertically. The polar bear enclosure has a variety of built-in viewing areas to allow you special access. Masao Kosuge says, I don't want to hear people saying, 'Kawaii! (Cute!)'; I want to hear them saying, 'Sugoi! (Amazing!)'.” The zoo was also one of the first to organize penguin walks in winter.

This presentation style gained attention and the number of visitors increased, including staff of other zoos from all over the world. Due to the popularity of the orangutan, penguin, polar bear, and seal exhibits, it surprisingly drew the highest number of visitors (over 1.27 million) in Japan in 2004, which surpassed Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. In 2006, the annual number of visitors reached 2 million, and the following year, the number was 3 million. Over the years, the Asahiyama Zoo has drawn a number of media attractions, and some TV programs and publications featuring the zoo's success have also been created. “Penguins in the Sky-Asahiyama Zoo” by Kadokawa Pictures is the movie based on the story of Asahikawa Zoo.

Despite its substantial redevelopment and enormous public interest, the entrance fee to Asahiyama Zoo has remained a fraction of zoo prices in other parts of the world, making Asahiyama Zoo an affordable and fun day out, all year round.

The winter months see the grounds and enclosures covered in a thick layer of Hokkaido’s glorious powder snow, and with its big cats, eagles, deer and wolves, makes one feel a part of the extreme conditions and landscape. The scene made the winter season visit worthwhile.

If you’re headed north to the island of with kids and are swinging through the Asahikawa area, you might want to put the Asahiyama Zoo on your list.

Penguin walk
Penguins’ walk in the winter season is one of the most popular attractions of the zoo. After the gate is open, people rush to line up to wait for the parade. Penguin walk was originally designated to help penguins exercise in order to lose weight, but now attract visitors to see.
Penguin feeding
Penguin opens up its mouth eating large fish look very cute.

Penguin Aquarium
There is an underwater glass tunnel in the Penguin Aquarium. A penguin swims as if flying in the water. Sometimes visitors can see the breeder feeding penguins.
Fierce Animal Exhibit
The leopard has a habit of staying in high places. Therefore, a part of cage is lifted higher for leopard to stay, so visitors can observe leopard underneath the cage. Please be careful because leopard could urinate any time.

Seal Aquarium
The big plastic tube tunnel in the Seal Aquarium is designed for seal to swim vertically to the surface to take breath. Visitors can see seals passing through the tunnel freely. Feeding show will be held sometimes.
Polar Bear Aquatic Park
Visitors can closely watch polar bears dive and swim in a large glass tank. A glass dome called Seals Eye. Visitors can experience the view point of seal, which is the polar bear’s favorite meal.

Orangutan Trapeze
A Borneo orangutan lives in trees in their whole life, so Orangutan Trapeze is designed for them to climb up and down. There is a rope at a height of 17m so visitors can see their skill. Orangutan’s hand strength is 400 kilograms, visitors no worry that orangutan could fall to the ground.
Animal design
You can see cute animal designs which were drawn by the staff everywhere in the zoo.
This shows how much staffs love the zoo and want to make visitors happy.

Travel Advice


-The opening hour of Asahiyama Zoo is different in summer season and winter season. In consideration of some animals cannot tolerate the cold in the winter, the zoon move them indoors earlier in the winter time, therefore the zoo shorten the opening hours in the winter season.

- During the colder months, you’ll be able to view the adorably cute 500 meter penguin parade, which held 30-60 min, twice daily at 11am and 2:30pm from middle of December to middle of March.

-There will be “Night Park” every year in the middle of August. In 2013, the Night Park is through August 11 to 15. The opening hours of the zoo will be extended to 21:00 during the period. Visitors can see animals’ night life and firefly.

- The restaurant will be crowed at lunch time. It is recommended that visitors have lunch earlier or bring the food to the zoo to save time.

- Visitor can purchase the special set of tickets which includes the Asahiyama Zoo Access Ticket and Admission Ticket to the Asahiyama Zoo at JR Sapporo Station. The special set is called “Asahiyama Zoo Ticket”, and Round-trip JR train ticket with non-reserved seating section between Sapporo and Asahikawa, round-trip bus ticket between Asahikawa Station and Asahiyama Zoo, and admission ticket for the Asahiyama Zoo are included in the set.

- It’s better that visitors spend the whole day here but if visitors cannot arrange a day trip here, visitors can spend 3 hours visit Penguin Aquarium, Seal Aquarium and Polar Bear Aquatic Park. These are the most popular exhibitions in Asahiyama Zoo.



Address Higashi Asahikawacho Kuranuma, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido
Phone 0166-36-1104
Admission Entrance
Adult: 1,000 yen (Groups 900 yen)

Passport (no limit of entrance)
Adult: 1,400 yen

Common ticket (include passport of the zoo and Science Museum)
Adult: 2,230 yen
Adult: over 15
Groups: over 25
Common ticket will be valide for an year start from the day of using
Hours 09:30 to 17:15  Apr 26 to Oct 15 (summer season)
09:30 to 21:00  Aug 12 to 16 (summer season)
09:30 to 16:30  Oct 16 to Nov 3 (summer season)
10:30 to 15:30  Nov 11 to Apr 7 (winter seaon)
Summer season entry until 16:00
Winter season entry until 15:00
Closed April 8 to 25, November 4 to 10, December 30 to January 1
Duration 3 hours
Getting There By Train
40 minutes ride by Asahikawa Electronic Bus No.41, 42 or 47 bound for Asahiyama Zoo from JR Asahikawa Station to the final stop, then walk approximately 1 minute.

By Car
Take Hokkaido Expressway to Asahikawakita exit and take National Highway route 37. It is approximately 10 kilometers from exit.
Parking Both paid and free parking are available

Attractions in Japan