Osaka: Tennoji Zoo and Light Up

Tennoji zoo has a reputation for being one of the worst kept and depressing zoos in Japan. It’s rating on TripAdvisor and comments left by visitors are not complimentary. With that and it being closed on Mondays Id never been before. A new evening winter light up just started in the park nearby as part of Osaka Castles 400th year celebrations. So we decided to finally go.


The zoo is only ¥500 to enter, and last entry is at 4pm, as we wanted to see the light up too we went quite late in the afternoon.

First we saw the monkeys, their rooms were small and in need of an update, but they had plenty of food and seemed content enough. There we even some cute baby monkeys.


This guy had a nice enclosure with his friend.


Red pandas are always one of my favourite zoo animals to see, this guy was so fluffy and cute. Sadly his mate passed away earlier this year and he’s all alone now.


A pack of crazy coyotes, it must have been near dinner time as they were so hyped up.


Lonely giraffe.


He’s shy.


On to the big cats, and one of the reasons my husband wanted to visit…


Baby jaguars.


Sleepy lion.

The polar bear was missing, I wonder where they put him as they cleaned his enclosure….? I still managed to get a picture with him…kind of.


Overall I enjoyed the zoo, there were more animals than I expected, yes it’s old and run down but no different to how Ueno zoo used to be. I don’t know how happy the animals are there, I hope that they are well cared for, I didn’t see any signs of worse conditions than other zoos.

We took a break in an izakaya and came back a little later for the light up. It’s just to the right of the park entrance in Tennoji.



The theme was ninjas! They were jumping all over the place.




Jumping over Harukas!



As the event only started recently and we went on a Thursday it was really quiet, it was great for us and we could relax and enjoy it. I expect it to get busier later in the season.

My friend alerted me to this petition for Osaka zoo, after reading about zoochosis, maybe now I can spot animals that were doing this – the red panda and tiger were pacing a bit when we were there. Over the last few years Tennoji has been having a make over, with new shops and Harukas, hopefully a makeover for Tennoji zoo is next?!


2 thoughts on “Osaka: Tennoji Zoo and Light Up

  1. Thanks for the write-up, it was fun to read. I’m actually staying near Tennoji zoo (next to Tanimachi 9 station) until the 17th of December. I would love to see the display of lights that you mention. When are the lights turned on? And where exactly? :) Thanks, Kostas

    • Thanks for your message, sadly I can’t find the website for the lights at the moment. If you enter Tennoji park from Tennoji JR. Station, the light up is to the right. It starts around 6pm in the evening. I hope you find it ok, I’ll link you to their website if I can find it! Enjoy!x

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