I love animals. I love zoos. I love parks. I love being able to pet something I have never pet before. Thankfully, taking a trip out to Shizuoka fed all desire I had to see wild animals. While we took the very long way to get there by mass transit from Yokosuka – we do not suggest a one day trip by that route – it was entirely worth it in the end. The bus went up a winding road through the woods, and dropped us off right at the entrance. The Fuji Safari Park (富士サファリパーク) has about 900 animals and 70 different species in an immersive park that is nestled below Mount Fuji.
Fuji Safari Park: Safari Zone
The Fuji Safari Park has two parks in one and both ‘zones’ have exciting things to offer! First, and for many the most exciting, part is the Safari Zone! There are three options: drive your own car (price: no extra), the Jungle Bus (price: 1,300 yen), and the Safari Navigation Car (5,000 yen). If you ride in your own car, then you can still get up close to the animals, but you cannot feed them. Windows have to stay up! If you ride the Jungle Bus, then you follow the directions of the driver, share the space with others, but get to feed the lions, bears, and herbivores with the provided snacks. The Safari Navigation car can fit up to 5 people, can go off the path, go at your own pace, and still feed the animals.
We took the jungle bus, since it was the middle ground option, and we had no idea what we were doing. The experience was worth it! The driver was kind and polite, and showed us the double cages protecting the bus. Each zone is marked off with a Jurassic Park looking fence and gate. The animals are free to explore throughout their enclosures, and come right to the bus to be fed. The lioness that took my piece of chicken was so gentle, and the bear that took my husband’s apple was excited and friendly. Make sure to check the trees for baby bears. It’s an experience you do not want to miss!
NOTE: Follow all rules and directions in the Safari Zone, they are given in Japanese and English! Be safe for you and the animals. If you need help, then honk for a ranger!
The next park of the zoo, which is included in your admission at the gate, is Fureai Zone. This zone is broken into two sections, the Fureai Bokujo and the Doubutsu Mura. Fureai Bokujo is a petting zoo that is far more exciting than the farm animal petting zoos I experienced in America. The kangaroos love it if you scratch them behind the ears, and capybara love belly rubs. Along with the warthog and meerkat, keep any eye out for the baby animal experiences they have throughout the day in this area.
The Doubutsu Mura – the animal village – is more like the standard zoo and gives you a chance to get up close with some more dangerous animals safely behind glass. My personal favorite is the Lycaon. There are still some animals you can pet and feed in this area, but they tend to be geared more for children. In addition to this, before you enter this area there are three ‘houses’: The House of Cats, The House of Dogs, and The House of Rabbits. These areas are meant for a relaxing and fun experience with the animals up close. Each house is 500 yen.
Be a child for the day and explore the wild side of your personality! Enjoy interactions with animals, and make sure to bring your camera. This is an opportunity to get up close to unique species, their habitats, and the enrichment the staff brings to them.
Fuji Safari Park Information
- 2255-27 Fujiwara, Suyama, Susono-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture 410-1231
- Telephone: 055-998-1311
- 9:00 to 17:00 (mid March through September)
- For Fall and Winter hours check website.
- 2,700 yen per person
- Children, group and senior discounts available
- By Road from Gotenba via 国道469号線 (approx. 30 minutes)
- Parking is free.
- By Rail: From Gotemba Station take the Fujikyu Bus (approx. 35 minutes)
- Other routes available on website.