Friday, December 20, 2019

Japan trip Winter 2019 - Harajuku Zoo Land

It's been a while I've visited an animal cafe (last time was an owl cafe in Spring 2015), but my friend J is an animal lover, so I thought it would be a great idea to check one out while we had the weekend with her!
As is almost always the case these days, I found Harajuku Zoo Land through social media. The bright pink colors and of course the capybara attracted my attention immediately when I saw a few people post photos to Instagram. Thank you @ayapix3 :) Luckily this one isn't difficult to find and in an area we would have already wanted to visit anyway - Takeshita doori! In fact, it's very close to where the Liz Lisa Harajuku location used to be.

It's on the third floor with a narrow stairway, but there was a staff holding a big sign to let us know where to enter and plenty of advertising on the steps. I think the second floor has a strawberry themed cafe.

The space itself is not very large and neither is the reception area. If you're paying with cash, you can use the little ticket vending machine to pay for your entrance fee (1550yen per half hour). At this point you can also opt to pay about $5 to feed the capybara as well. If you want to pay with credit card, you'll need to do your transaction with the staff at the desk. We were told when our 30 minutes were over and were given a tag to wear to signify when that was.

Then we were ready to start! You can just go right in, put your bags down and then the staff let you know which animals can be carried (ferret, meerkat, hedgehog and hamster) and which you should only pet but not pick up (fennec fox and capybara).

We started with the ferrets which are in a round enclosure in the center of the room.

There was also a small, playful capuchin monkey(?) in a cage which seemed like an animal that you needed to look and not touch but it was really friendly and active when you approached it.

Then we went to say hello to the capybara which has its own separate area with a bath. We didn't opt to feed him but he was still quite friendly if not a little sleepy.

Fennec fox on a leash was sleeping peacefully as well!

Moving out of the center area, J had a staff assist her in holding a meerkat who looked around for a bit but them promptly settled in and fell asleep in her arms.

Meanwhile, we also got to interact with the hamsters. We were told to wear the gloves because they won't discern between fingers and food and might bite!

The hedgehog was actually one of the more popular animals in there and I just barely got a few minutes to hold him before our time was up. You only need one glove to hold him and can pet him with a bare hand. So cute.

And just like that our time was up and we were reminded of it very politely by the staff and ushered out.

There is a free drink that is included in your admission from a vending machine in the corner, but the 30 minutes went by quite quickly and only my husband really had a chance to get something lol.

Overall, this experience did feel a little bit rushed, but I think that's because there were so many other people in the room interacting with the animals at the same time. In contrast, when we visited the Owl Cafe, we had a reservation and were the only ones in there. While you can make a reservation at Harajuku Zoo Land, the slots are for 1 hour minimum (3100yen) and it doesn't seem like they restrict other people from coming in anyway.
On the plus side, it was really interesting having the assortment of animals all in one space. Although I've interacted with a capybara before, this was my first time seeing a meerkat and fennec fox up close. Even the hamster and hedgehog were fun since they're illegal to have in Hawaii and they're so active!

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