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A Side of Kobe You Didn’t Know 5: Oji Zoo

Are you an animal fan? I’m sure a lot of you are, so today I’m going to tell you about Kobe’s Oji Zoo. Oji Zoo is home to a lot of animals, including adorable koalas and burly bears.

You can see bears up close at Oji Zoo.

When you enter Kobe Municipal Oji Zoo, you’ll see a panda sign.

The panda that appears on the sign at the entrance is the most popular animal at Oji Zoo. There are pandas at only three zoos in Japan, so it’s incredible that you can see them in Kobe!

There’s a hidden spot where you can see pandas up close.

The panda that currently lives at Oji Zoo (a female named Tantan) came to Kobe from China in the year 2000 to offer some joy after the great Hanshin Earthquake. Tantan has been greatly loved in the 20 or so years since then, and has offered comfort to many.

In fact, Tantan’s daily life is streamed online. Take a look at a day in the life of Tantan on Oji Zoo’s Official YouTube Account!

They also celebrated Tantan during March’s “Hina Festival,” which is also a traditional festival for girls. Be sure to take a look at this, too!

Cute, stuffed animal-like koalas are extremely popular.
By the way, did you know that the only zoo in Japan where you can see both pandas and koalas is in Kobe?

Other than pandas and koalas, there are also large animals like lions and hippopotamuses, as well as cute, smaller animals like turtles and squirrels. There’s information about many other animals on the official website! At present, you can find 800 animals of about 150 species at Oji Zoo. It’s the perfect place for animal-lovers!

There’s also a hippo, swimming slowly in a pool!

In Oji Zoo, there are lots of fun ways to see the animals. For example, there are feeding and training times, when you can see the animals moving about actively. If you set your route according to the feeding times for each of the animals, you’ll be able to see them having their meals, so try to plan your visit in time with these!

*For details about feeding and training times, and a guide on the koalas, see here. You can find information together with a list of the other animals.
You can also hear lots of stories from the zoo keeper!
In addition to telling you all about Oji Zoo, I’d like to share my personal hints for some fun ways to study Japanese!

Giraffes, seals, zebras, and elephant are also popular animals at Oji Zoo. Do you know how to say all of them? The zoo is also the perfect place to remember the names of animals! So how can you remember them in a way that’s fun and easy?

I recommend not just looking at the animals, but using all four senses to remember them.
1. Observe the animals with your eyes, and read the name and explanation on the sign in front of the enclosure.
2. Listen to the sounds the animal makes.
3. Use your nose to sense the animal’s smell.
4. Touch the animal with your hand.

*Number 4, touching, is only allowed with a few animals! Oji Zoo also offers a “petting time,” so please use this time to touch the animals that are a part of it.
*Currently, due to COVID-19, this service is not being offered.

It’s said that it’s easier to remember an animal’s name and characterisitics if you associate them with the sensory experience of that animal, so consider using this as an opportunity to remember lots of animal names in Japanese!

There are lots of animals in Oji Zoo, so you may get a bit tired walking around, but there are also places to take a rest. There is also an amusement park that both children and adults can enjoy, and even the Old Residence of E.H. Hunter, which is designated as an Important Cultural Property! The Old Residence of E.H. Hunter is said to be the largest existing early Westerner’s residence (“ijinkan”) in Kobe.

If you go to the very top, you can enjoy some Kobe scenery.

The residence interior is open to the public, so you can take a look at what a Westerner’s home here looked like during the Meiji era (1868-1912).

*Rides at the amusement park require fees separate from the park entrance fee.
*Park entrance fees can be seen here.

The cherry blossom season is coming up, and you’ll soon be able to enjoy cherry blossoms in Oji Zoo, too, so we hope you’ll come give it a visit!

This is just one of the places we hope you’ll visit while you’re in Kobe.
For more photos of Oji Zoo, please take a look at their Instagram!