All prefectures and wards in Japan have a “Residents Day”.
Wards (similar to U.S. counties) normally have a festival for their Residents Day … and prefectures (similar to U.S. states) usually give kids the day off from school and that prefecture’s zoos and museums offer free admission.
Today (October 1st) is 都民の日 (Tokyo Residents Day).
Normally zoos and museums in Japan are closed on Mondays.
Today is a Monday, but Tokyo’s two government-owned zoos (Ueno Zoo and Tama Zoo) are open today and admission is free.
The zoos in Japan always on Mondays if it’s a holiday (though free only on a few days a year)…but they close the day after the holiday — so Tokyo’s zoos will be closed tomorrow (October 2nd).
A typhoon hit the Tokyo area yesterday but the weather is nice today, so the zoos are sure to be crowded today.
So if you’re in Tokyo now, and you don’t mind a crowd, you can go to one of Tokyo’s zoos for free today (I recommend Tama Zoo but it’s not as conveniently located as Ueno Zoo).
Just don’t plan to go to a zoo or museum in Tokyo tomorrow … they’ll be closed (the ones in the neighboring prefectures are closed today but will be open tomorrow … as usual).
From last Friday until tomorrow (2011 August 16), Tokyo’s 上野動物園 (Ueno Zoo) is having a “Night Zoo” special program where guests can stay in the zoo until 8:00PM and see the animals’ behavior at night.
I took a picture of this sign at the zoo's entrance. It says "So, let's go to the zoo at night. August 12 - 16 until 8PM (last admission is 7PM)"
We went to the “Night Zoo” yesterday. It was fun to go to the zoo at night especially in the summer when it’s sweltering everyday in Tokyo now…because the temperature goes down a bit.
Before we went into the zoo, I mailed a friend of mine a summer postcard from the panda mailbox that I wrote about in this post.
Back of the "panda mailbox". The tail and ears can be seen.
Near the entrance of the zoo, close to the panda house, the zoo was collecting donations for the victims of the 2011 March 11 earthquake.
Anyone who donated at least ¥100 (US$1.30 at today’s exchange rates) was given a special うちわ (paper fan).
We got a couple of them.
Ueno Zoo "Night Zoo" fans...proceeds go to help the earthquake victims.
The front has many pandas and stars and says "midsummer night's zoo"
The back shows the back of seven pandas whose tails spell "Ueno Zoo" and it says 「がんばろう！日本」 ("Never give up! Japan") and 「手をつなごう、子供も大人も動物も」 ("Hand-in-hand...kids, adults and animals")
My camera isn’t so good at taking nighttime pictures, so I didn’t take many photos of the animals.
But we had a good time there. We’ve been to many zoos around Japan many times, but this was our first time to go to the “Night Zoo”. Ueno Zoo only has the “Night Zoo” once a year in the summertime…tomorrow is the last day for this year’s “Night Zoo”. So, if you’re in Japan now, you should consider going!
Does you local zoo have a “Night Zoo”? Have you ever attended it?