I’ve been on the lookout for things to do along the Sobu Line for a while now and when I came across a video on YouTube the other week about some cute otters at Ichikawa Zoo that place was planted in my mind. With the weather better than expected a couple of weekends ago my girlfriend and I hopped on a train and travelled 40 minutes east to Ichikawa where we were gonna hook up with my mate Chris and his girlfriend Helen who had only just returned to Japan.
Sadly I forgot to do my research in advance and just a few stops before Ichikawa we realised that the zoo wasn’t actually close to that station! Thankfully it didn’t bugger things up too much as it was just a few stops further on and a quick change to the Musashino Line (also JR) before we were at Ichikawa-ono which is the nearest station to the zoo. However, its still not within walking distance from there so the four of us jumped into a taxi and continued on to our destination. The cost was only 1000 yen so it wasn’t much more than the irregular bus service which is around 200 yen per person.
We arrived at about 3.15pm and with the place closing at 4.30pm (last entry is at 4pm) we had enough time to go round everything at a leisurely pace rather than rushing round which is what I thought we may have had to do! The cost of entry is 420 yen for adults and 100 yen for children.
The aforementioned YouTube video (which you can see here) brought this zoo to my attention with its cute otters getting into a bit of a traffic jam on their water-pipe-constructed play thing! It took a fair bit of waiting before they finally started playing and splashing on the water pipe (below) but was worth it. Up until then they had been just swimming around the other parts and sniffing the door and fence on dry land and Chris and I had actually crossed to the other side of the path to see some other animals before returning in time.
Ichikawa is fairly small zoo and whilst it doesn’t have the usual favourite wild animals like tigers, lions and elephants it still has many other animals with the best thing for kids being the chance to get hands-on experience of touching and playing with a range of domesticated animals.
Personally, I’m a fan of the lesser Panda’s (above) and there’s a sizeable amount of those to see as well as a monkey area (below) known as saru-yama a.k.a. monkey mountain.
There’s supposedly a couple of huge orang-utan’s but I only saw one and certainly didn’t get a good picture of whichever sex it was that was sitting around above.
There’s a mini shinkansen (bullet train) which costs 100 yen and goes round the mini park (below) which is a nice little area for one to rest among a couple of stagnant giraffes!
For the record, the Municipal Museum of Natural History in Ichikawa (above) is also located within the zoo grounds but we didn’t really have any interest (or time!) in going inside.