Often we go to bed with big ambitions of getting out the door early and then well,…life. Anybody else feel me? Our tribe had a super busy December between visiting Okinawa, Tokyo DisneySea, and Northern Vietnam, so it was not surprising to find that everyone just wanted a morning to simply chill. Honestly, it was really nice to just lounge about in pjs with a cup of coffee and watch the kids play with dolls and Legos. But there is always a part of me that can’t help thinking, “We aren’t going to live in Japan forever…what are we doing wasting the day?! Let’s go adventure!!” Finding a balance between adventuring and simply relaxing is a challenge sometimes.
Anyway, mid-morning we found ourselves all piled in the car with to-go cups filled with piping hot coffee and ready to hit the road. Fuji Safari Park is ~2 hours from the house, so although we were leaving a bit later than we had planned it was still a very doable outing. If you are able to commit a full day to the area there are quite a few other places (fairly) close by to fill out the rest of your afternoon. The most convenient being Grinpa Amusement Park which is also located on the southern base of Mt. Fuji and is just a short drive away from the safari park (~11 minutes via car). Perhaps get an earlier start than we did a check them both out? I mean you’re paying crazy tolls to get out there anyway, so might as well!
If you have more than just one day and you aren’t digging the amusement park vibe we did spend an entire weekend the previous spring in this area that was more nature focused. So if hiking or camping is more your style check out our Fuji Five Lakes weekend write-up! Likewise, if you are after an absolutely stunning view of Mount Fuji while in the area, we recommend Fuji Bussharito Heiwa Park (Fuji Peace Park). It’s particularly lovely in the Spring during sakura season.
There are two main sections to the park: the drive-thru safari and the petting zoo/walk-through animal village. Upon arriving we opted to explore the drive-thru portion first, after all, that’s kinda why we came in the first place.
For the drive-thru you can go a a couple ways, you can drive your own car, rent a car (you can only do this if at least one person in your party understands Japanese), ride in an animal themed bus, or lastly ride the “Super Jungle Bus” which has a metal roof (this option has specific departure times and you can make online reservations for this as well). We chose to drive our own car as it’s old as heck (12years to be exact) and a few more dings wouldn’t hurt anything. Additionally, if you drive your own car through the park you can drive through the safari portion as many times as you would like with one admission ticket. On the flip side if you do choose the animal themed bus there are steel bars that you have the option to feed some of the animals through, so if feeding animals is very important to your group choose the bus themed option!
So, off we go! Lions, Tigers & Bears…Oh My!
Here’s the route and the zones you’ll be going through – bears, lions, tigers, cheetahs, elephants, and then finally landing in the herbivore zone.
The safari took ~45min to explore and the kids loved every minute of it. Penny kept yelling, “Look! Looooook! BABIES!!!” Yes, this little girl loves all animals and they are all inevitably referred to as babies. Miles kept asking, “Can we get a book about ____?” I love that these adventures are not only enjoyable for the whole family, but that they also have the added bonus of increasing the kids’ curiosity to learn more. When we left the house the skies were clear and blue, but when we arrived Fuji-san had a good number of clouds. We felt fortunate getting a few decent views (see above).
When we finished driving through the entire safari, we headed over to the other main section of the park to hang with some pretty chill animals. The kangaroos and capybara, however stole the show in the Fureai Zone . My dreams were totally made when we got a family selfie with one of them!
Overall, we think ~3 hours is a good amount of time to alot for this excursion (although it could be done in two it might feel a tad rushed). On the way home we stopped by Toki no Sumika (aka Gotemba Kogen Toki no Sumika) for their “Lights of Versailles” winter illumination. There are 4 million+ lights here as well as a 340-meter tunnel that our kids enjoyed running through, making silly poses along the way. The lights themselves are free, however if you want to check out the water show an admission ticket is required. Overall we thought this illumination was a nice stop as it was on our way home from the Safari Park, however we would not have made a special trip just the lights.
- Safari Zone: March 11 – October 31: 0900 – 1630, November 1 – March 10: 1000 – 1530
- Own Car: 2700yen/Adults (high school students and older), 1500yen/Children (ages 4 to junior high school students), 2000yen/Senior discount (ages 65 and older)
- Jungle Bus: 1,300yen/person, Children under 2yo are free
- Jungle Car: 5,000yen
Tip: Although not available when we visited, the park does offer night safaris during parts of the spring and summer (April 28 – May 6 and June 21 – August 26). These tours run from 1700 – 1930 and can be completed by either driving your own vehicle or taking the Jungle Bus. The night safari cost is 1700yen/person and free for children age 4 and under. If you complete the night safari the same day as the day safari you will receive a discounted rate (1000yen) just show your receipt from the earlier transaction. However, if you leave the park during the day and then return at night you will be charged the full admission.
- Parking: Free
Fuji Safari Park Tips:
- If you drive your own car make sure to keep those windows up and doors locked for the entire safari
- Jungle Bus tickets on the weekends sometimes sell out, so the earlier the better for this option
- “Super Jungle Bus” does not allow children of preschool age (departure times: 0950, 1020, 1220, 1250, 1450, 1520)
- There is also a Walking Safari option from mid-March to the end of November. The admission for this is 500yen/person and is about 2.5km in length. Plan on 1.5 – 2 hours.
- Hours: Daily, October 27, 2018 – March 17, 2019 from 1630 – 2200
- Admission: Tunnel of lights is free, Water Show: 1000yen/Adult, 200yen/Child (children under elementary school age are free)