Summer’s here in Japan, and I’m deliberately sweating out a lot of my body weight by writing this in an un-air-conditioned room. I’m not sure why, but it feels like the right thing to do.
We’ve just taken the kids to the African Safari in Oita, Japan. Here’s a google maps link for those that just want a link. Here’s a link to their page (in English) as well.
Tokyo is a big city, however it’s not big enough for a proper zoo. There is the Ueno Park Zoo, which seems more like a prison for animals, but is still pretty popular. For those that like to see animals with a little more room to move, there’s the Tama Zoo, about an hour out of the city.
But on Kyushuu, the southern main island of Japan, there is a huge safari park.
I have to admit, I had a lot more fun than I expected there.
The park is probably the biggest zoo in Japan, where animals are roaming in a totally uncrowded environment. Ok, so it’s a temperate mountain top and not the Savannah of Africa, but it’s about as close to a “natural” habitat as I’ve seen in a zoo in Japan.
We originally went here to use the Safari Bus – this is a 45-60 minute ride on a caged bus. You’re given a box of different foods to feed the animals. They’re so used to this that they make way for the buses as they drive through and dutifully eat the food that you shove unceremoniously through the metal grille. The kids love it, and the driver gives out a lot of facts about the animals as you go along.
Once the tour is finished there are a number of less ferocious animals on display inside, including a baby tiger (which is available to be hugged for photographs), a petting zoo, and both a dog and cat cafe.
However, one of the really cool things is that you can simply drive your own car through the safari course at your own pace. This allowed me to crack out the camera and get some nice shots, which I’d like to share with you now.
A long time ago, a friend of mine commented that “everything is on show in Japan,” meaning that no matter what you go an see, it will always look and behave as you think that it should. The trees are always perfectly groomed, the animals are always behaved, and the level of service you get from the hospitality sector is amazing. And it’s the same with these animals; you can easily drive your rental car through the park without insurance and feel safe knowing that you’re not going to get rammed by an elephant…
Anyway, if you’re into big animals or patting dogs and you happen to be in the Oita prefecture, then go and check this place out.