Last weekend we took advantage of the sunny weather and took our kids to the Chausuyama Zoo in Nagano City. The zoo is on a hill above Shinonoi Station with great views of Nagano City and the Shiga Kogen Heights in the distance, and is famous for its Lesser Pandas. The Lessers sure were cute, but we were more impressed by the lions and the tiger near the entrance. They sure are huge in real life. Nearby was a section with both giraffes and zebras in it. The 4~5 meter tall giraffes made the zebras look like pygmies. We had the most fun at the Urangutan exhibit. He was eating lunch when we saw him, and he would come right up to the window, face to face with our Misaki. She was so scared she started crying!
Most of the critters were enclosed behind bars in concrete cages, but it didn’t seem as cramped as most other zoos in Japan. And it seemed like you could see the animals pretty close up (too close in some instances, like Misaki and the urangutan!). The kids liked the petting zoo, and there were the great views of Nagano City below.
Chausuyama Zoo’s website is here
Access: Closest train station is Shinonoi, 4 stops from Nagano Station. Bus Access from Shinonoi Station is available, but very sparse. It would be a long (7~8 km) and steep hike, so if you don’t have a car, I would splurge for a taxi.