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From penguins to giraffes, Hamura Zoo offers more than 60 animal varieties

A giraffe is fed by a visitor at Hamura Zoo near Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 9, 2019. Theron Godbold/ Stars and Stripes

THERON GODBOLD/STARS AND STRIPES

By THERON GODBOLD | Stars and Stripes | Published: November 7, 2019

The Hamura Zoo, just a 10-minute drive from the main gate of Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, packs a large entertainment punch with more than 60 varieties of animals ranging from penguins to giraffes.

With a very low cost of admission — about $3 for adults and 50 cents for children ages 4-14, this small though slightly run-down zoo provides a comfortable atmosphere.

The grounds are about the size of 2 ½ football fields, with paths winding throughout. A large play area near the entrance has an open field, benches and an old train engine to climb on, allowing kids the space to run and adults a place to set up a picnic or just relax.

At the center of the zoo is a large pond where ducks, cranes and carp make their home. A large main path circles the zoo perimeter, leading patrons on an animal adventure.

Follow the main path and you will come across a variety of animals large and small. A kookaburra laughs in the trees as you gaze into the monkey pit, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a Japanese macaque riding a boar.

Farther on, you will find an enclosure where a waddle of penguins basks in the sun or swims in a shallow pool.

If African animals are more your style, the small but well-kept giraffe and zebra enclosure is a must see. The enclosure’s open design allows a great view of the familiar zoo animals.

More exotic animals like porcupine, servals and Siberian lynx can also be found on the main path.

Back at the entrance, in a large pavilion, zoo attendants will bring out Guinea pigs and chicks for children to handle. Across the path you will find a small souvenir hut where ice cream and zoo gifts can be purchased.

Free parking in the zoo lot is a two-minute walk from the front gate.

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DIRECTIONS: 4122 Hane, Hamura, Tokyo 205-0012. Exiting the Fussa gate at Yokota Air Base, turn right on Route 16. At the first light, turn left. Continue past the train tracks to the next light and turn right. Continue for about a mile until you see the zoo on the right. GPS coordinates to entrance: 35.765944, 139.328664.

TIMES: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., March through October; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. November-February.

COSTS: 300 yen (less than $3) for adults, 50 yen for children ages 4-14 and free for children 3 and under.

FOOD: A small shop serves pre-packaged ice cream at the front gate.

INFORMATION: Online: www.t-net.ne.jp/~hamura-z

Japanese macaque lounge inside their enclosure at Hamura Zoo in western Tokyo, Oct. 9, 2019. Theron Godbold/ Stars and Stripes
THERON GODBOLD/STARS AND STRIPES

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