Animals and nature
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Aquariums

Enoshima Aquarium - Aquarium: Fujisawa-shi
[Open 9am-5pm daily.]
One of the biggest and best aquariums in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Enoshima Aquarium is located right on the beach next to Enoshima Island and is home to more than 20,000 marine animals. Penguins, seals, dolphins and giant sea turtles are...
Epson Shinagawa Aqua Stadium - Aquarium: Shinagawa
[Open noon-10pm daily.]
This unique aquarium features walk-through viewing tunnels where you can see some of the 350 species of aquatic animals on hand. Several dolphin and sea lion shows are presented every day.
Shinagawa Aquarium - Aquarium: Shinagawa-ku
[Open 10:00-17:00 (last admission at 4:30pm). Closed Tuesdays (except during school holidays).]
With its out-of-the-way location and small size, Shinagawa is mostly a neighborhood attraction, but worth a look if you happen to be nearby. The highlights are an underwater tunnel where you can watch turtles and schools of fish swimming around you...
Sumida Aquarium - Aquarium: Oshiage
[Open 9am-8pm (last entry) daily.]
Penguins are the star performers at Sumida Aquarium, where they cavort in a 350-ton indoor tank at the center of a two-story atrium space. Overall, the aquarium is on the compact side, and may seem a bit overpriced at Y2,000, but it has some...
Sunshine Aquarium - Aquarium: Ikebukuro
[Open summer 10am-8pm; winter 10am-6pm daily.]
You'll see marine life from all over the globe swimming and splashing around in this big, three-story aquarium, which was completely renovated in August 2011. The biggest draws are probably the giant manta rays and the huge sunfish (called mambo in...
Tokyo Sea Life Park - Aquarium: Kasai Rinkai Koen
[Open 9:30am-5pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Wednesdays.]
This beautifully designed aquarium recreates more than a dozen marine environments from around the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans as well more local spots like Tokyo Bay and Japanese rivers. Sea bird afficianados can enjoy...
Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise - Aquarium: Yokohama Hakkeijima
[Open hours vary between 9am-9pm (summer weekends) to 10am-5pm (winter weekdays). Open every day.]
Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is one of the best aquariums in the country and also one of the largest, housing over 100,000 fish and other marine creatures, including polar bears and sea otters. In addition to the main aquarium building there's also a...

Zoos

Inokashira Park Zoo - Zoo: Kichijoji
[Open 9:30am-5pm (entrance until 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
This low-key zoo specializes in animals that are native to Japan, so don't expect to see lions and giraffes, although they do have an Asiatic elephant and many tropical birds. Some of the other animals on display include tanuki, fennecs, masked...
Tama Zoo - Zoo: Hino-shi
[Open 9:30am-5pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Wednesdays.]
The goal of Tama Zoo is to display animals from various parts of the world in naturalistic habitats. Spread out over the vast 129-acre grounds are three distinct ecological areas - the Asiatic Garden, African Garden, and Australian Garden. There's...
Tobu Dobutsu Koen - Zoo: Saitama-ken
[Open 10am-4:30pm. Closed Mondays.]
Rare white tigers are the stars at this suburban zoo, which houses around 1200 animals from 150 species. There's also a petting zoo and a summertime firefly area. Attached to the zoo are an amusement park with thirty rides, and a summer-only water...
Ueno Zoo - Zoo: Ueno
[Open 9am-5pm (tickets sold until 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
Perhaps best known for its beloved giant pandas, Ueno Zoo is home to more than 2600 animals from more than 450 species. Zoo highlights include a petting zoo, a small-mammal house with a nocturnal animal section, and a reptile and amphibian house...
Zoorasia - Zoo: Yokohama
[Open 9:30am-4:30pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
Established in 1999, this modern, animal-friendly zoo shows off its residents in spacious habitats that mimic their natural environments. It's divided into seven separate ecological zones - Asian tropical forest, subarctic forest, Oceanian...

Cafe animals

Dog Heart from Aquamarine - Animal cafe: Yoyogi-Koen
[Open 11am-7pm daily.]
A pack of happy, tail-wagging pups greeted us in boisterous fashion upon our arrival at Dog Heart, letting us know that we'd be in for a lively afternoon at one of Tokyo's more gregarious animal cafes. Unlike the often reserved residents of your...
Sakuragaoka Cafe - Animal cafe: Shibuya
[Open 8-11am, 11:30am-3, 5:30pm-4am (Sun -12) daily.]
A pair of rather cute goats, living in a pen in front of the shop, are one of the main draws at this lively neighborhood cafe. The interior is spacious, filled with mismatched, comfortable chairs and battered tables, and the soundtrack tends...
Tokyo Snake Center - Animal cafe: Harajuku
[Open 11am-8pm. Closed Tuesdays.]
You can get a milk snake to go with your iced coffee and cake at Tokyo Snake Center, a new animal cafe in the young fashion district of Harajuku, Tokyo, that opened in August 2015. As you enter, you'll find a dozen colorful snakes in clear...
Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse - Animal cafe: Yokohama Kannai
[Open 11am-8pm (LO). Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays.]
Lizards, tortoises, snakes and other reptiles - plus the odd amphibian - are the main attraction at this charming animal cafe. While most of the animals are confined to tanks or cages, several giant tortoises cavort around a large play area, where...

More animals and nature

Machida Squirrel Garden - Animal park: Machida
[Open 10am-4pm. Closed Tuesdays.]
Hundreds of adventurous squirrels live in colorfully decorated houses in Machida Squirrel Garden's spacious outdoor enclosure, sharing their habitat with a couple of friendly giant tortoises. These squirrels are very acclimated to human visitors,...
Abiko City Museum of Birds - Museum: Chiba
[Open 9:30am-4:30pm. Closed Mondays.]
Located on the north shore of Teganuma Lake, around 45 minutes from central Tokyo, the museum focuses on the avian wildlife of the lake as well as the world of birds in general. After a visit to the museum you can stroll along the lakeshore trail...
Baji Koen - Park/garden: Setagaya-ku
[Open March-Oct 9am-5pm; Nov-Feb 9am-4pm. Open every day.]
Run by the JRA (Japan Racing Association), this horse-centric park has extensive riding grounds and over 100 resident horses. Equine-related shows and more informal events are held frequently on weekends, while weekdays tend to be quieter - you'll...
Food and Agriculture Museum - Museum: Setagaya-ku
[Open May-Nov 10am-5pm; Dec-Apr 10am-4pm (last entry 30 min. before closing). Closed Mondays.]
If you're interested in taxidermied roosters, cactus plants, sake paraphernalia, ancient farm tools, modern architecture or lemurs, then this quirky little museum has something for you. Run by Tokyo University of Agriculture, the Food and...
Himonya Koen Kodomo Dobutsu Hiroba - Park/garden: Meguro-ku
[Open 10-11:30am, 1:30-3pm. Closed Mondays.]
Predating the era of cat and rabbit cafes by many years, petting zoos offer a friendly, interactive animal experience for young kids (and their parents) without the cover charge or the expensive cafe au lait. The one here lets you play with...
Shibuya Fureai Botanical Centre - Park/garden: Shibuya
[Open 1-6pm. Closed Mondays.]
A mini-botanical garden close to Shibuya Station, the compact greenhouse here is crowded with more than 200 kinds of tropical plants as well as a few tanks full of fish and bugs. The facility runs weekly gardening classes (in Japanese) and holds...
Takaosan - Park/garden: Hachioji
Located less than an hour from Shinjuku station, Mount Takao is a popular hiking destination, drawing some 2.5 million visitors every year. There are several different trails to choose from, and the climb from base to summit, standing 599 meters...
Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park - Park/garden: Ota-ku
[Open 9am-5pm (Nov-Jan -4:30pm; last entry 30 minutes earlier). Closed Mondays.]
Open to the public since 1989, the Wild Bird Park (Tokyoko Yacho Koen in Japanese) is a 24-hectare nature preserve built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. Within the park are several diverse habitats fashioned to attract a variety of wildlife, with...
Tokyo Riding Club - Sports facility: Sangubashi
If you're bored with the ski machine and the stairmaster at your gym, why not limber up with a little horseback riding? Tokyo Riding Club has everything you need - horses, saddles, stirrups - and it's conveniently located inside Yoyogi Park, so you...
Yatsuhigata Nature Observation Center - Park/garden: Minami-Funabashi
[Open 9am-5pm (enter by 4:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Yatsu Higata, a 1000-acre mudflat connected to Tokyo Bay, is one of the better bird-watching spots in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The wetlands here are an excellent place to see migrating shorebirds during their stopover in Japan, with good...
Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse Dome - Park/garden: Shin-Kiba
[Open 9:30am-5pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
More than 1000 varieties of tropical and subtropical plants grow inside this 1500-square-meter dome-shaped greenhouse located in a park next to Tokyo Bay. Some highlights include giant water lilies, jade vines, Chinese banyan trees, flowering...