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A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

A hot summer day at Inokashira Park Zoo

Did you know Inokashira Park in Kichijoji has a zoo?  It does, and it is a little different in that it is divided into two sections. One part is for birds and is located in the middle of the park. The other part, for  non-flying animals is actually located up some stairs, a turn right, a trip out of the park and over a road … about a 500 to 600 meter walk away. I kid you not. Well, they should have consulted with me about the location, but that they didn’t.  That’s fine as it is still a nice place to visit, as long as you don’t mind that short walk. I enjoyed it, hot though it was.

The zoo is small but I liked it. A few areas could probably benefit from a fresh coat of paint, but it is a fun place and really spacious. You’ll also find lots of kiosks, tables and benches, if you need to relax.

I think most people will go to the bird section first as it is located within the main area of Inokashira park.  It is just a couple of rows of large cages but it does have some interesting birds. The cages are of the wire type which can get in the way, but if you persevere you can still get some good shots. This area also has an indoor aquatic display that seemed quite educational, but I doubt you’ll spend much time in it. I think the majority of people will soon take that walk and head over the road!

Over the road is where you’ll find the monkeys, meerkats, fennec foxes, guinea pigs and everything else.  I found that part more interesting! And I’m sure anyone goes there with kids and a camera, will enjoy it too.

Some of the cages made photography a little problematic again, but overall, I thought it was good.  There was also a small, miniature amusement park for kids, a sculpture garden and a museum. The one thing to remember about both areas is don’t throw your tickets away after entry because you’ll need them to get into the other part of the zoo.

Photographing the animals was a good experience as I’d never done that type of photography before.  For example, the foxes and squirrels were quite a challenge. They were very active and darted around plus they were also behind bars and wires. This caused enormous problems for auto-focus as the camera would lock onto completely random things.  So, I decided to use manual focus combined with burst mode which got me some acceptable pictures. 

And I learned one thing about animals!  Like humans, many of them dislike heat. So before heading out to the zoo in the morning it  just didn’t occur to me that most animals would be dodging the sun during the middle of the day … when I would be trying to photograph them.  Silly me! I’ll put it down as a learning experience and go when it is cooler, next time. At least some of the smaller, cuter ones cooperated.

If you want to learn more about Inokashira Park you could read my article about it here. And if you want to see the website for the zoo, you can see that here.