Our latest family adventure brought us to the incredibly beautiful, unique country of Japan where we spent a day at Himeji Castle and the Himeji City Zoo.  Emily loved the chance to immerse into a completely new culture, meet new animals and enjoy Japanese surroundings.

Day Trip To Himeji Castle In Japan

This prestigious Castle is an official World Cultural Heritage Site. We were awestruck by the beauty and intricacy of this massive complex. It includes 82 buildings and served as a major hub of feudal life for over 300 years.


Visit To Himeji City Zoo

Emily happened to look down from the top of the castle during our tour and notice a small zoo located on the grounds. Since she’s always up for a new animal encounter, we decided to visit the zoo after our tour of the castle was complete.

The zoo had an urban, old-style layout. Himeji Castle looming in the background made for a dramatic, contrasting backdrop to the zoo’s plain, simple exhibits. Unlike many of the zoos we’ve toured in the United States, visitors could get very close to the animals housed at this zoo.

Japanese Species of Animals

Himeji Zoo is home to an impressive number of different animals, numbering 100 total species. There were polar bears, hippopotamus, sea lions, capybara, red panda, brown bears, lions, elephants, and a giraffe with a heart-shaped spot on her leg. Along with these more well-known species were some native Japanese animals Emily had never had the privilege of seeing before in person. These included raccoon dogs, a Japanese badger, a red-crowned crane, and a caracal. Beautiful and unique birds were among the zoo’s main attractions, featuring everything from owls, to hawks, to eagles, to chickens and Asian ducks.

Face To Face with a Polar Bear

Emily found the massive size of the two polar bears in this up-close exhibit surprising. They were much more immense than she had ever imagined. Though they were majestic and fascinating to watch, Emily was thankful she could observe them from behind a secure barrier!

Watching Hippos Eat

Most of the time when Emily has seen a hippopotamus exhibit at a zoo in the United States, the animals are hidden from view in a pool of water. In this zoo, two of these large creatures munched away happily on carrots, lettuce, and cabbage in plain sight. Their sloppy feeding habits were both interesting and amusing to watch. They reminded Emily of vacuum cleaners, sucking up their food!


The animals at Himeji Zoo appeared healthy, with clean cages and plenty to eat. The zoo keepers were busy interacting with the animals, cleaning their cages, and feeding them a fresh diet of natural foods. Though the animals seemed as well taken care of as possible under the circumstances, Emily felt that they could benefit from some updating to the zoo’s layout. Redesigned cages could provide them with a larger, more natural habitat.

At the time of this article being written, the cost of a visit to Himeji Zoo is very inexpensive for both children and adults. It cost us only 300 yen for adults, which is equal to about $3.00, and 40 yen for kids, equal to about $0.40.

Cycle through Himeji Japan on Rental Bikes

After visiting the zoo, Emily and her family rented bikes and bicycled around the paths beside both the zoo and Himeji Castle. The refreshing exercise we enjoyed in breathtaking surroundings was the perfect end to an enchanting day in Himeji, Japan.