Sunday, 3 January 2016


Penguin parade at Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa
Asahikawa is known for three things - skiing, ramen and Asahiyama Zoo. It also has the honour of being the city in Japan that has the coldest recorded temperature of -41 degrees celcius. As our train neared the city, the scenery was but a blanket of white!

We left Sapporo early so we were able to make the Zoo's 1030am opening time. We had 5 hours as he zoo closed at 3.30pm in winter. The entry fee was just mind-boggling cheap: 820 yen per adult, and free for kids below secondary school age! The zoo was well worth its bargain entry fee. This could explain why there was already a significant line of people (along with ourselves!) at 10am waiting in the snowy cold.

The line started here...

...went around the corner and extended into the carpark


Children super excited to see so much snow

Asahiyama Zoo's drawcard is its unique animal enclosures which allow the animals to be viewed at unusual angles. We were hypnotised by the views of the hippos swimming and moving under water. So much so that we lost a child. The zoo's other big hit is their penguins which perform a penguin parade, walking from their enclosure along a route lined by people marvelling at their cuteness. I pooh poohed it but found myself oohing and aahing like everybody else...

The vertical tube which allowed us to view the spotted seal move vertically. Seemingly so simple!

We could view them side on as well

Or from the top!

This one doing a spot of backstroke

Jonah's favourite - octopus

So nice to see a polar bear in natural snow and sub zero temperatures!

Penguin Parade! They asked people in the front row to kneel/squat so those in the back can see

The baby that everyone loved!

Err...not such a baby anymore!

The family's favourite...

At first glance, looked like a hunk of snow...snow owl!

They really can turn their head nearly 360 degrees!

Majestic wolf

Red fox

Hokkaido deer

So ungainly on land but so "graceful" underwater!

Lunch at the zoo was simple ramen. It wasn't expensive at 640 yen per bowl and it was tasty. There were other options available including sausages, fried chicken, meat buns, etc which were all reasonably priced.

Chashu ramen with lots of meat

A mid afternoon finish saw us at our hotel the JR Inn Asahikawa, conveniently right at the JR Station. It just opened in April 2015 and is a funky hotel with a spacious and comfortable guest lounge overlooking the station equipped with coffee, tea, jazz and books. The rooms are small but not tiny and everything is brand new. It was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours whilst waiting for our laundry (the hotel has 2 coin operated washer/dryer). The children's favourite though, was the pillow bar. Choosing a pillow never took so long...


Pillow bar. Just choose one already...

We chose to have dinner at Aeon Mall which was right below the hotel. There was a decent selection of restaurants as well as a food court and a large supermarket. We only discovered when we arrived here that Asahikawa rice is also well-known because of the crystal clear spring water that is used. We thought we'd give it a go. The rice was nice but I couldn't really tell the difference...The family parted ways after dinner with my parents off to shop, Malcolm off to find sake and the children to bed!

Rice steamed in special steamer

Large dinner set for only 1300JPY! That's about $14.50 australian

Here's what the rice looked like

1 comment:

  1. Must visit this zoo one day! I won't need to research our next trip to Japan you have covered it all for me!