Visiting: Ueno Zoo Tokyo

Ueno Zoo is one of the three zoos housing Giant Pandas and also the oldest zoological park in Japan.  Located a short distance from the electronics/tourist centre of Akihabara alongside Ueno Park it’s easy to get to and thanks to a very low Y600 (under AUD10) admission price very affordable for even a short visit.

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Visiting: Wakayama Castle

During our trip to Japan we used Wakayama as an overnight stopover on the rail journey from Shirahama to Osaka.  Since our hotel was a mere 800m away taking the time to visit Wakayama Castle had to happen.

The castle has a long history, having been first built in 1585 and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt numerous times through the years since.  The most recent rebuild was in 1958 after it was destroyed by bombing in WWII.

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Visiting: Wakayama Adventure World

I really like Giant Pandas so it made perfect sense to incorporate a trip to Adventure World into our Japanese holiday.  See Adventure World is home to the largest “family” of Giant Panda outside of China.  At the time of writing (and our visit) 7 were living there.

It’s not all about the Pandas though with the park being a hybrid of theme park and zoo.  During our visit the persistent rain kept visitor numbers down and we didn’t explore the whole park.

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Review: Okumizuma Onsen

When we started planning our 2016 trip to Japan we both felt it would be essential to try and stay in some more traditionally Japanese accomodation and couldn’t go past the location and setting we found at Okumizuma Onsen.

Our very first night in Japan turned out to be one where we were able to immerse ourselves into Japan and soak away over 24 hours of planes, trains and automobiles in the natural hot spring baths of Okumizuma Onsen.

Okumizuma Onsen
Driveway and entry to Okumizuma Onsen.

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My Panda Moments: Adventure World Japan

As you know I’m a bit keen on the good old Giant Panda.  So when we started planning our trip to Japan I knew I was going to be having some Panda moments!

There are three Zoos in Japan that have Giant Pandas on exhibit; Oji Zoo in Kobe, Ueno Zoo in Tokyo and Adventure World in Shirahama.

On the 10th of May 2016 we made our way to Adventure World in the town of Shirahama.  Adventure World is home to the largest Panda “family” outside of China and has had considerable success with breeding Giant Pandas over the years.  If there’s one place in the world where you can have Panda moments this is it!

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All About JaPandas – Where to find Pandas in Japan – Shirahama

By now I’m sure every reader is familiar with my love for the Giant Panda.  So with a trip to Japan coming up it’s only natural that I seek out the Pandas of Japan or JaPandas (I’m pretty sure that’ll stick as a name).

Can’t get to Shirahama?  There’s Pandas at Kobe and Tokyo too!

Pandas in Shirahama / Wakayama

Initially I found it a little odd that despite Japan having a massive number of Giant Pandas in Zoos the majority are held by one park in a more “remote” area of Japan.  To clarify while the Wakayama region is a known domestic tourist location it’s probably not on the itinerary of many foreign tourists.

Wakayama Adventure World is a combination Amusement Part and Zoo in Shirahama that can be easily accessed by Air from Tokyo or by the plentiful Rail and Bus services (typically from Osaka).


Here in Adventure world 8 pandas live healthily. This is the biggest Panda family through the world except for China.(Yuhin left for his parents’ native country, China on June 21, 2004 and Ryuhin & Shuhin left on October 27, 2007, Kohin left on March 15, 2010 to comply with request by China Zoo Association.)  Our Giant Pandas breeding and preservation research program has been bearing fruit steadily in an ideal rearing environment.

A small history of their Pandas can be read here (

The Park is typically open 10:00 to 17:00, and closed on 1-2 Wednesdays per month.  A complete schedule of Hours and dates is maintained online (

Park Fees are very reasonable for the scale.

(Age 18+)
(Age 65+)
(SHS &
Ages 4+)
1Day Pass 4,100yen 3,700yen 3,300yen 2,500yen Entrace to the Park,
Marine Live, Safari on the Kenya Tour.
2Day Pass 7,200yen 6,700yen 5,500yen 3,900yen Valid for any two days
with in a three day period.


All About JaPandas – Where to find Pandas in Japan – Kobe

By now I’m sure every reader is familiar with my love for the Giant Panda.  So with a trip to Japan coming up it’s only natural that I seek out the Pandas of Japan or JaPandas (I’m pretty sure that’ll stick as a name).

Can’t get to Kobe?  There’s Pandas at Tokyo and Shirahama too!

Pandas in Kobe/Osaka

If you’re heading for Japan you may find yourself in the Kobe/Osaka region with some spare time.  Why not add some Black and White Panda love?

Kobe is home to the Oji Zoo.  While most attractions in Japan have English language options on their websites I’ve yet to find one.  Instead I’ve relied upon for English details.

The Oji Zoo is one of three large zoos in the Kansai area. The total area is more than 80,000 square meters with 850 animals from a total of 150 different species on the premises, including rarely seen animals such as giant panda, koala, golden snub-nosed monkey, Amur tiger, and snow-leopard among others. Some of the most popular attractions are the pandas Koko and Tantan, and the female elephant Suwako, born in 1943, making it the oldest living elephant in Japan.

Obi Park is located a 3-minute walk to the west of the “Prince Park” station or 5-minute walk to the north of JR “Nada” station the address is: Yubinbango 657-0838 Kobe, Hyogo Nada-ku, prince-cho, 3-1


The Zoo hours are; 9:00 to 16:30 from March to October and 9:00 to 16:00 from November to February.  The Zoo is Closed on Wednesdays.

Tickets are 600 yen per adult.


All About JaPandas – Where to find Pandas in Japan – Tokyo

By now I’m sure every reader is familiar with my love for the Giant Panda.  So with a trip to Japan coming up it’s only natural that I seek out the Pandas of Japan or JaPandas (I’m pretty sure that’ll stick as a name).

Not heading for Tokyo?  Maybe Kobe or Shirahama will be in reach?

Pandas in Tokyo

If you’re heading for Japan it’s probably likely that you’ll be heading for Tokyo at some stage.  Why not add some Black and White Panda love?

Tokyo is home to two Giant Pandas at the Ueno Zoological Gardens.

Ueno Zoological Gardens is the oldest zoo in Japan. Founded in 1882, it has grown over the years, expanded its area to 14.3 ha (35.2 acres) and been the flagship of the Japanese zoo world. Now it’s home to over 2,600 animals from 464 different species and provides visitors with learning experience about the diversity of animals as well as fun and enjoyment.

Located in Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo, the zoo is 5-10 minites’ walk from JR Ueno Station, Subway Ueno Stations (Ginza-line or Hibiya-line), Keisei Ueno Station, or Subway Nezu Station (Chiyoda-line).

Getting to Ueno Zoo

The Zoo is home to Ri Ri and Shin Shin who arrived in 2011.

You can grab a PDF Map of the park to better plan your day.

The Zoo opens at 9:30am and closes at 5pm.  The Zoo is not open on Mondays.

Admission is very reasonable (Correct at February 2016)

Adults (16-64) 600 yen
Seniors (65+) 300 yen
Students (13-15) 200 yen
Children (0-12) Free

Japan 2016!

It’s with a bit of “woohoo” and awesomeness that I can announce that in 2016 I’m off to Japan to clock up seeing another 11 Pandas.

Naturally Bullet Trains will be ridden and some weird and wonderful Tokyo attractions will be done.

Super Super Happy.

Watch this space as the planning unfolds!