People often associate Japan with busy neon-lit modern cities, but there are plenty of beautiful open spaces across the country where you can enjoy nature and wildlife. The Kansai region has parks, rivers, and mountains where you can head along to and see if you can spot creatures roaming or swimming free. Some places even offer nature excursions. Here are a few of the great places for wildlife spotting.
This 8-squared kilometer park is one of the most popular attractions in all of Kansai for animal lovers. Why? Because there are approximately 1,200 deer roaming freely around the park. Used to the continuous stream of visitors to the park, the deer are friendly and can be touched and fed. The park also includes a number of other notable attractions such as the Todaiji and Kofukuji Buddhist temples and scenic Japanese gardens. If you’re lucky, you may also see one or two squirrels scampering about the park. Located five minutes by walk from Kintetsu Nara station, this park is within easy reach of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe.
This beautiful mountainous park in Kyoto is home to around 120 different breeds of Japanese monkey that roam freely around the grounds. You can get up close to the monkeys and even feed them in an area at the top of the mountain, where you will also find an observatory offering spectacular panoramic views of the Arashiyama area. This park is especially popular around springtime when visitors flock to see the cherry blossom trees that surround the grounds. There are also other creatures to be found here including deer and around 100 different species of bird.
Entry fee: 550 yen (adults); 250 yen (children)
Running right through the center of Kyoto city, Kamo river provides a great setting for a leisurely or romantic walk along its banks. It’s also a fine spot for fans of aquatic wildlife. There are approximately 30 species of fish to be found in the river, as well as four species of turtle and the legendary giant salamander, which is the largest amphibian in the world. All of this may not be easily spotted by casual strollers, but fear not as regular evening excursions are organized where you will be kitted with waders, headlights and a dip net.
This serene 35-hectare park is one of Osaka’s most attractive open spaces featuring ponds, Japanese gardens and many cherry blossom trees that draw in visitors in the spring and autumn time. You can relax and listen to the singing of the many species of birds to be found in the park. There is also a small burial ground within the park where, if you’re lucky, you might spot one of the tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) that dwell there.
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