In Japan, April 29th, May 3rd, May 4th and May 5th are public holidays. Collectively they are known as 「(ゴールデンウィーク」 (“Golden Week“). Technically only those days are public holidays and therefore only the May 3-5 period is “Golden Week”, but many companies allow their employees to have a Golden Week holiday from 「昭和の日」 (“Showa Day”) on April 29th until 「子供の日」 (“Children’s Day”) on May 5th.
(Click here to read my FAQ that explains a bit about the Golden Week holidays.)
Today is May 4th…「みどりの日」 (“Greenery Day“) in Japan.
This is the day to appreciate nature. Every year May 4th is one of three days that all of the public 動物園 (zoos) and 水族館 (aquariums) are open with no admission charge.
So you can go to the zoo or aquarium in Tokyo for free today…if you don’t mind the crowd.
Of the three days that Japan’s zoos are open for free, May 4th is the most crowded because it’s the day that is a national holiday.
Tokyo’s 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) will be particularly crowded because in addition to the zoo being open for free on a national holiday today…Ueno Zoo recently got new pandas.
The three days of the year that Japan’s public zoos and aquariums are open for free are May 4th (“Greenery Day”), 都/道/府/県民の日 (Prefecture Residents’ Day) (each prefecture’s “Residents Day” is a separate day), and the anniversary of the day that the zoo / aquarium first opened.
So, for Tokyo’s public zoos, the days that they’re open for free are as follows:
-May 4th 「みどりの日」 (Greenery Day)…which is today.
-October 1st 「都民の日」 (Tokyo Residents’ Day)…as for the Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures, 千葉県民の日 (Chiba Prefecture Residents’ Day) is on June 15th, 埼玉県民の日 (Saitama Prefecture Residents’ Day) is on November 14th, and 神奈川県民の日 (Kanagawa Prefecture Residents’ Day) is on March 19th—so Chiba Zoo, Tobu Zoo, Yokohama Zoo, etc. will be open for free on their respective prefecture’s Residents Day.
-And the other free day is the anniversary of the zoo’s grand opening…so, for each of Tokyo’s public zoos and aquariums, that day is:
Ueno Zoo...open for free every March 20th (first opened on 1882 March 20).
Tama Zoo is open for free on both (May 4) today and (May 5) tomorrow (both are national holidays). Tama Zoo first opened on 1958 May 5th.
Kasai Seaside Aquarium...open for free every October 10th (first opened on 1989 October 10).
Inokashira Zoo...open for free every May 17th (first opened on 1918 May 17).
Ooshima Zoo is always opened to the public for free.
Do you like zoos and aquariums? Which is your favorite zoo? Have you seen any of Japan’s zoo?
If you want any information about these zoos and aquariums in Tokyo (or the ones in the neighboring prefectures), feel free to ask in this post’s comments or e-mail me…I’ve been to them all.
(Images in this post are from the Tokyo Zoological Park Society website).