11 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Japan

Updated On October 7, 2023

Experience the natural beauty of Japan and explore its diverse wildlife by visiting one of the country’s many world-class zoos and aquariums.

From the snow-capped mountains of Hokkaido to the serene beaches of Okinawa, Japan has a variety of zoos and aquariums to discover.

From the largest sea mammal park in the world to the renowned Ueno Zoo, there are 11 of the best zoos and aquariums in Japan.

Best Zoos & Aquariums in Japan

1. Ueno Zoo

 Founded in 1882, Ueno Zoo is the oldest zoo in Japan and home to around 2,600 animals of some 400 species.

Located inside Ueno Park in Tokyo, the zoo is renowned for its Giant Panda exhibit.

It also boasts a vast array of species from all over the world, like silverback gorillas, wild cormorants, Malaysian sun bears, Asian elephants, giraffes, and white tigers.

Visitors can also enjoy the petting zoo, botanical gardens, bird aviaries, and a variety of educational programs.

It’s located in the town of Taito near Ueno Park and is open from 9:30 am-5 pm, closed on Mondays.

2. Asahiyama Zoo

Asahiyama Zoo is located in the town of Asahikawa, Hokkaido, and boasts some of the most popular attractions in Japan.

Get to the town by the JR train and take a short stroll to the zoo.

Visitors can watch polar bears taking a dip in the pool, seals playing with balls, and monkeys frolicking in the snow.

This zoo also has an animal hospital, a botanical garden with over 1,000 species of plants, and a petting zoo.

In winter, one of the top attractions is the Penguin Parade from December through March, so check the schedule for timing.

The zoo is open from 9:30 am-4 pm and closed on Mondays.

3. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Opened in 2002, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is one of the largest and most popular aquariums in Japan.

It is part of the Ocean Expo Park located on the main island of Okinawa.

The aquarium features a massive main tank with over 740 species of fish, including manta rays and whale sharks.

Other exhibits include the coral reef and jellyfish tanks, and visitors can also enjoy activities like the dolphin show, the sea lion performance, and the turtle sanctuary.

4. Toba Aquarium

Toba Aquarium is located in Mie Prefecture, Japan.

It boasts one of the world’s largest tanks for jellyfish, with over 10,000 species of jellyfish in the aquarium.

The aquarium also has a variety of other tanks, like the dolphin tank, the penguin pool, and the tropical fish displays.

Visitors can also enjoy interactive activities with sea lions, dolphins, and whales.

The aquarium even has an Octopus Touch Pool.

In addition to exploring marine life, guests can learn about conservation efforts at Toba Aquarium.

The aquarium is open from 9 am-5 pm and closed on Mondays.

5. Yagiyama Zoological Park

Located in Sendai, Yagiyama Zoological Park is a popular destination for animal lovers that opened in 1965.

The zoo features a wide variety of animals from around the world, such as monkeys, tigers, elephants, kangaroos, and giraffes.

Visitors can also join in on various educational programs offered at the park.

In addition to exploring the animal exhibits, visitors can take part in interactive activities like riding ponies and camels or feeding the animals.

There’s a vending machine that allows you to buy monkey food for them.

If you don’t speak or understand Japanese, the park also has signs in English.

The park is open from 9 am-5 pm and closed on Mondays.

6. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Featuring over 580 species of fish, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the largest public aquariums in the world.

Located next to Tempozan Harbor Village in Osaka, visitors can explore 15 tanks displaying a variety of aquatic life.

The aquarium also has an interactive touch pool and a 4D theater.

Other attractions include the jellyfish exhibits, a cafe, and an outdoor plaza with views of Osaka Bay.

There’s an audio guide available in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean where you can listen to stories about the animals as you visit each tank.

Feel free to come here daily from 10 am to 8 pm.

The website recommends that visitors pre-book their tickets online to avoid a line.

7. Aqua Park Shinagawa

Aqua Park Shinagawa is one of the largest aquariums in Tokyo.

The aquarium has over 20,000 marine animals, such as manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins, and sea turtles.

Visitors can also enjoy interactive activities like riding on a glass bottom boat or viewing the animals as they walk through the glass tunnel.

It’s conveniently located in the city center, so you can easily take Tokyo’s metro.

You may get a discount if you show your room card from certain nearby hotels such as the Prince hotel.

Don’t forget to check out the beloved dolphin show.

8. Hakkeijima Sea Paradise

Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is one of the largest aquariums in Japan, located in Yokohama.

It has the country’s first surf coaster, Blue Fall, that swings out over the ocean.

It features over 500 species of marine life spread across 30 different tanks.

Visitors can explore the different aquatic environments, ranging from Aqua Museum, Fureai Lagoon, Dolphin Fantasy, and Umi Farm.

In addition to exploring marine life, visitors can also visit the Aqua Theater.

There are several admission passes available, such as a Day Pass, Theater Pass, Night Pass, and more.

Visitors can also stroll the flower garden and stay at the hotel on the grounds.

9. Monkey Park Iwatayama

Monkey Park Iwatayama is located in Arashiyama, Kyoto.

Be prepared to take a steep hike up the mountain to reach the park.

Once at the top, visitors can observe over 120 wild Japanese macaque monkeys in their natural habitat.

Don’t forget to bring snacks, as visitors are allowed to feed the monkeys.

However, you can also buy apples, peanuts, and other snacks at the park once you arrive.

There are also volunteer staff members available to answer any questions you may have.

In addition to the monkeys, some kids may also like the slide and small zipline.

Enjoy the monkeys from 9 am to 4 pm and then check out the nearby Ichitani Munakata Shrine only .03 miles away.

10. Okichan Theater

Visitors can enjoy the dolphin shows at Okichan Theater in Obihiro, Hokkaido.

The free shows display the dolphins doing all kinds of tricks against the stunning ocean backdrop and last about 20 minutes.

Children love it and are allowed to sit at the front side of the pool.

In addition to the lively dolphin shows, there is a turtle exhibit, a manatee exhibit, a sea lion exhibit, and a penguin exhibit.

When you view the dolphin show, you’ll also learn about these majestic creatures’ abilities and eco-life.

11. Sunshine Aquarium

Open daily from 9 am to 8 pm, Sunshine Aquarium is located on the 8th floor of an office complex in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.

It’s a bit different from other aquariums, as it showcases both aquatic and land animals.

This interactive aquarium has several tanks of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

You can also meet the Koi fish and turtles in the petting pool.

Other attractions include the jellyfish exhibits, a cafe, an outdoor rooftop terrace, and a theater.

Entrance fees are slightly higher than other aquariums but you can save money if you book in advance online.

11 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Japan – Summary Table

Zoos & AquariumsAddress
Ueno Zoo9-83 Uenokōen, Taito City, Tokyo 110-8711, Japan
Asahiyama ZooKuranuma Higashiasahikawacho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 078-8205, Japan
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium424 Ishikawa, Motobu, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-0206, Japan
Toba Aquarium3-chōme-3-6 Toba, Mie 517-8517, Japan
Yagiyama Zoological ParkJapan, 〒982-0801 Miyagi, Sendai, Taihaku Ward, Yagiyamahonchō, 1-chōme−43
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan1-chōme-1-10 Kaigandōri, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0022, Japan
Aqua Park ShinagawaJapan, 〒108-8611 Tokyo, Minato City, Takanawa, 4-chōme−10−30 品川プリンスホテル内
Hakkeijima Sea ParadiseHakkeijima, Kanazawa Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0006, Japan
Monkey Park IwatayamaJapan, 〒616-0004 Kyoto, Nishikyo Ward, Arashiyama Nakaoshitachō, 61
Okichan TheaterIshikawa, Motobu, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-0206, Japan
Sunshine AquariumJapan, 〒170-8630 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 3-chōme−1 サンシャインシティワールドインポートマートビル屋上


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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Time of Year To Visit Zoos & Aquariums in Japan?

The best time to visit zoos and aquariums in Japan is during the spring and autumn months when temperatures are more moderate.

Summer can be very hot and humid, while winter is cold and snowy in some areas of the country.

Are There Any Zoos & Aquariums That Allow Animals to Roam Around Freely?

Yes, there are a few zoos and aquariums in Japan that allow animals to roam freely.

The Ainoshima Island Cat Park, for example, is a cat paradise where cats are left to their own devices.

Similarly, the Free Animal Sanctuary in Okinawa allows visitors to interact with animals in a free-range environment.

What Mammals Are Native to Japan?

Some of the mammals native to Japan include the Japanese macaque, wild boar, sika deer, squirrels, and brown bears.

Japan is also home to several species of bats and marine mammals like the bottlenose dolphin, finless porpoise, sea otter, and humpback whale.

Can Children Get Discounts at Zoos & Aquariums in Japan?

Yes, most zoos and aquariums in Japan offer discounts to children.

Some even offer free admission for children under a certain age.

It is best to check with the individual zoo or aquarium for more information about their pricing and discounts.

What Marine Life is Native to Japan?

Some of the marine life native to Japan include black seabream, yellowtail, sea urchin, cuttlefish, sea horses, Japanese mitten crab, and various types of whale.

There are also numerous species of coral, jellyfish, starfish, and shellfish in Japan’s coastal waters.

Are There Any Zoos & Aquariums in Japan With Hotels?

The Aqua Park Shinagawa in Tokyo has the Aqua Beach House, and Yomiuriland Amusement Park also has a hotel.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium has two hotels nearby, and the Umi Farm in Ishikawa also has a hotel.

Are There Any Nighttime Zoos & Aquariums in Japan?

Yes, there are a few nighttime zoos and aquariums in Japan. Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is one of the largest, with a beautiful night view of Yokohama’s harbor.

The Tokyo Sea Life Park and Uminonakamichi Seaside Park also have nighttime programs.

Are There any Free Zoos & Aquariums in Japan?

Yes, there are several free zoos & aquariums in Japan. For example, the Nagoya City Science Museum has a free zoo, and the Yamato Zoo in Chiba is also free.

The dolphin shows at Okichan Theater are free as well.

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