April is upon us, which means the beginning of the financial year and academic year, cherry blossom parties, and the end of the end of the extremely short spring holidays. (I don’t get why the last day of third term and the first day of first term are separated by less than two weeks while first and second terms are six weeks apart)
April 1st was a bit of a joke weather-wise. The heater didn’t get turned off all day, and rain was persistent.
April 5, however, gave us sun and basically the most glorious day so far this year. I was to do something with my son, and decided an outing was in order – partially for blog reasons. My initial suggestion of a walk around Hachikokuyama was rejected immediately, but when I offered Inokashira Park as an option, interest sparked. A quick internet search of the small zoo within the park sealed the deal.
*Note: The English page for the zoo currently mentions Asiatic elephants. This is no longer true as Hanako, the oldest elephant in Japan, died in May 2016. Her enclosure was small and concrete floored, and Hanako had not seen another elephant in decades.
Leaving that sour note behind us, lets take a mostly visual wander around the zoo. I’ll focus on the native wildlife here, mostly from my son’s attempts at photography…
Before entering the zoo we encountered the “source”…
The zoo is divided into the main zoo park and the aquatic life park. My son wanted to visit the latter first. As we entered the sun was out in all its glory and bush warblers could be heard calling out. We actually spotted one up a tall tree, but we could make out its movement better than its shape. Still, I managed to get a recording of its voice. Turn your sound up for this video.
The outdoor section of the aquatic park houses waterfowl, and the park makes note of is breeding program for Mandarin ducks.
We also spotted people checking fish traps in the lake – I assume they were either surveying the fish population and/or removing alien species.
Most of the shots of the birds are not worth showing, so let’s take a look at the aquarium section.
One enclosure was particularly interesting – it contained a pair of little grebes which actively hunted for fish, a large soft-shelled turtle, a Japanese pond turtle and a crested kingfisher. Only the last one is not normally found within the confines of the larger park area.
But being able to see those little grebes hunt was something special.
I finally got some pictures of Japanese keelbacks.
After we had finished in the aquatic park we crossed over to the main zoo. While this zoo houses a variety of animals from around the world, it boasts a collection of native Japanese mammals and birds.
There is a squirrel enclosure which visitors can enter and experience squirrels running around them. My memories of Hokkaido include seeing wild squirrels in the large park, but they are a different species. People around Tokyo rarely, if ever, see wild squirrels.
While my son was keen for the civets to wake up, they didn’t. However, one the Japanese martens became active later in the afternoon.
At just ¥400 for adults and free admission for kids under 12, Inokashira Park Zoo is possibly one of the cheapest and best value days out in Tokyo. And that doesn’t include the rest of the park!