Are There Pandas In Japan?

Are There Pandas In Japan?

06 de June, 2024Jon Ng

When thinking about a panda, which picture can you visualize the most?

Maybe the sight of a panda sitting in a bamboo forest eating bamboos comes into your imagination at first.

As there are some bamboo forests in Japan, you might be wondering, are there pandas in Japan?

Well, today, I am here to remove all your curiosity regarding this.

Hence, keep reading to quench your thirst.

Do Pandas Live in Japan?

Yes, pandas do live in Japan, but you can only find them in Japanese zoos, as they are not native to our homeland. Despite that, pandas are very popular in Japan.

giant panda eating bamboo in a zoo

But only a few know how this cute animal became one of Japan’s favorite symbols.

Anyway, pandas are native to southern China. So, pandas are actually Chinese, not Japanese.

So, how come you can see them in the Japanese zoo? You are probably thinking about it at this moment.

Well, chill out. I am letting you know all these facts about the pandas in Japan.

When Did Pandas Come to Japan?

The People’s Republic of China gifted two pandas to Japan as a part of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1972.

These two pandas were called Kang Kang and Lan Lan.

Japanese people were too quick to welcome these adorable wild animals into their culture. Their arrival triggered a remarkable “panda boom” in Japan.

giant panda couple

Well, this is not the end. What happened after that?

For details, keep reading….

History of Pandas’ Arrival in Japan

One day those two pandas left this world, and after that, the female Huan Huan and male Fei Fei were brought in the early 1980s.

Later in 1886, Huan Huan gave birth to a female panda named Tong Tong, and in 1988 a male panda You You was born.

Meanwhile, in 1984, pandas were enlisted as animals that could no longer be commercially traded as part of the conservation.

This move, unfortunately, caused the pandas in Japan to be considered a loan from China.

panda cub sleeping on a tree

So, there is an agreement or deal between the two countries that any pandas born in Japan have to be returned to China within two years of birth. And things were going according to the agreement.

Let’s see what happens next.

In the year of 1992, a male panda Ling Ling arrived in Tokyo. His mating partner Shuan Shuan also joined him at Ueno Zoo to accompany him, but unfortunately, in 2008, he died without leaving any offspring.

For three years afterward, from 2008 to 2011, Ueno Zoo had no panda!

Then in 2011, one male and one female panda named Ri Ri and Shin Shin respectively arrived at Ueno Zoo from China.

When this couple gave birth to a female cub named Xiang Xiang in 2017, the sparking of a new panda boom happened once again at Ueno Zoo.

Now, it’s time to let you know a joyful story about this couple.

Significance of Pandas in Japanese Culture

In Japan, pandas are beloved creatures that are seen throughout Japanese culture. These cuddly animals have become a symbol of peace, love, and joy due to their adorable looks and gentle temperament.

Throughout the years, pandas have long been part of synonymous with the culture in Japan, instilling hope and joy where ever it appears. 

According to one folktale, pandas received their unique black and white markings as a blessing from the gods, who used their special magical powers to guarantee the protection of pandas in the future. 

This explains why they are now seen as a symbol of protection and good fortune in Japan.

The love of pandas has been evident in Japanese art, symbolizing innocence and inner peace. You will often see them accompanied by children or featured on wall scrolls or figurines, as a symbol of peace and prosperity.

When it comes to literature, pandas also hold a special place in literary works. In the Edo period, their appearances were often used as symbols of joy in Noh theater, and in the Meiji period, their fur was used as a poetic metaphor for happiness. 

In the modern day, pandas have become an endlessly useful tool for authors and illustrators, who use them to convey simple, heartwarming messages and serve as a reminder of the joys of life.

In food and beverages, pandas also have a place in Japanese culture. Tea companies often utilize them in marketing campaigns, as they represent innocence and peace, as well as serving as an inviting presence that people are expected to find comforting. 

No matter where they appear, pandas in Japan are never far away. An important part of Japanese culture, these gentle animals have come to stand for peace and protection, as well as provide an emotional connection with those that encounter them. 

To the people of Japan, pandas are an invaluable part of their life, representing a soft and gentle reminder of the strength and joy of life.

A Pleasant Surprise at Japan’s Oldest Zoo: The Birth of Twin Pandas

After the birth of Xiang Xiang, Ri Ri didn’t mate with his partner Shin Shin for nearly around four years.

So, finally, in early November 2020, after a four years break, Ueno Zoo in Tokyo announced the news of Shin Shin’s pregnancy.

And then, on June 23, 2021, Shin Shin gave birth to not only one but two cubs! So, they were the first twin pandas born in Japan.

Such a great news it is!

twin pandas

Apart from Ueno Zoo, you can see pandas in some other places in Japan, where pandas are kept in captivated condition.

No matter how cute this animal is, you cannot keep it as a pet, as private captivity is not allowed.

So, pandas live wildly only in China, and after 1984, all pandas technically belong to China. The pandas in other countries, including Japan, are just on a lease.

Anyway, now that you know there are pandas in Japan, you might be curious to know where you should go to visit them. Right?

Okay, let’s discover those places now.

Where to See Pandas in Japan?

Ever since pandas were brought to Japan, we Japanese have immensely loved this wild animal.

Some Japanese zoos are your only option if you are also eager to see these adorable animals.

panda in the zoo

Tourists, as well as locals, gather at the zoo in Japan to see pandas.

Zoos in Japan with Pandas

The places where you can see pandas in Japan are given here:

1. Ueno Zoo, Tokyo

Ueno Zoo, the oldest zoo in Japan, is located in central Tokyo, which is easily accessible for visitors. The main attraction of this zoo is pandas.

Previously this zoo was featured with old-fashioned cages, but recently an initiation has been taken to keep its environment as close as the animals’ natural habitat.

So, you can consider taking your little kids or the whole family for pure entertainment.

Here I have included some information for your convenience.

Necessary Information
Zoo Opening Time (Regular): 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets are only available until 4:00 pm at the counter.
Closed Days: Monday (if Monday is a public holiday, the zoo remains closed on Tuesday).
Parking: This zoo doesn’t have any parking zones, but you can get paid parking facility nearby.

The time may change for any obvious situation. So, you are requested to be sure about the time before going there.

You can check it for timing details and advanced ticket reservations.

Fare Depending on Age
Children (0-12): Free.
Students (13-15): 200 yen.
Adults (16 -64): 600 yen.
Seniors (64+): 300 yen.

Here I have attached a video about the one-year journey of a female baby panda Xiang Xiang. You already know that it is the child of the Ri-Shin couple.

I hope you enjoyed watching such cuteness.

2. Adventure World, Wakayama

Adventure World, also known as Safari World, has a relatively larger area where animals are kept in an environment that is almost similar to their natural habitats.

In 1994, the first panda arrived at Adventure World, and until 2016, 14 panda cubs were born here in captivity.

However, currently, you will get to see six pandas here, including the baby giant panda Yuihin, which is everyone’s favorite.

The exceptional thing about this place is if you want to get close and personal with these adorable animals, this place is just perfect for you.

They even arrange a Panda Love Tour, giving you an opportunity of observing the pandas closely. You can even feed them their favorite apples.

Necessary Information
Opening Time: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Time may vary with season.
Closed Days: Closed days are not scheduled.

You have to check their official website to know about the closed days and opening times beforehand. You can also buy tickets from here.

Tickets are also available at the counter.

Fare Depending on Age
Children (4-11): 2800 yen.
Students (12-17): 3800 yen.
Adults (18-18+): 4800 yen.
Seniors (65-65+): 4300 yen.
Panda Love Tour
Cost Per Person: 7000 yen.
Duration: 50 minutes.
Limitations: 15 people per day.

Check this cute mini video on panda cub Saihin that was born on August 18, 2018.

3. Kobe Oji Zoo, Kobe

There have been pandas at this Kobe Oji Zoo for many years, but recently on June 1, 2020, the panda lease from China on Tan Tan ended.

Tan Tan was the last panda in the zoo, and unfortunately, it was sent back to China.

Hence, there is a huge possibility that the Kobe Oji Zoo will get another panda very soon.

Necessary Information
Opening Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm (March to October, last admission: 4:30pm) & 9:00am – 4:30pm (November to February, last admission: 4:00pm).
Closed Day: Wednesday.
Fare Depending on Age
Junior High School and under, age of 65+ years from Hyogo Prefecture, Disabled Person: FREE!!!
Adults (High School & Over): 600 yen.

Check their website before going there, as time may vary for certain conditions.

Well, these are the places where you can see pandas in Japan.

We have seen that the number of pandas in Japan is so low that you can count them by hand.

How Many Pandas Are There in Japan?

Until 2020, before Tan Tan was sent back to China, there were ten pandas in total. But now, only nine are left in Japan. Three of them are at Ueno Zoo, and the rest six are at Adventure Park.

Current Statistics of Pandas in Japan

Name Gender Current Location
Ri Ri
Ueno Zoo
Shin Shin
Ueno Zoo
Xiang Xiang
Ueno Zoo
Ei Mei
Adventure World
Rau Hin
Adventure World
Ou Hin
Adventure World
Tou Hin
Adventure World
Sai Hin
Adventure World
Yui Hin
Adventure World

As you have been with me for a long time, I can assume that you are immensely interested in visiting these cute creatures.

You already know about the place where you should go, but which time of the day will be the best for visiting pandas?

Best Time to See Pandas

Usually, pandas are very lazy animals. They eat and sleep a lot. However, they don’t follow any fixed routine.

pandas sleeping awkwardly

But if you want to have the best experience, you should go to the zoo in the morning. This is the time they are most likely to be active. You can even see them crunch on some bamboos.

And a panda holding a bamboo with its front paws-what a cute scene it is!

panda holding a bamboo & eating leaves

Get ready to go in the early morning if you don’t want to miss this absolute adorability.

Well, I have already provided you with all the necessary information.

Now come to another part of this writing. The pandas I was talking about all this time were all giant pandas.

But what about red pandas? Now let’s know about them in short.

What Are The Differences Between Giant Pandas and Red Pandas?

Despite having ‘panda’ in their name, these two are not related to each other.

Are you surprised to know that?

Yes, dear! Giant pandas are the members of the bear family, like black bears and grizzly bears, whereas red pandas are included in the ailuridae family. In fact, red pandas are the only living part of this family.

The giant panda is much bigger than the red panda. The appearance is different also. See the below picture of a red panda, and you will understand the differences yourself.

giant panda & red panda

Now the question is, do red pandas live in Japan?

Are There Red Pandas in Japan?

Like giant pandas, red pandas are not native to Japan either.

They are only native to some certain part of Asia. You can find red pandas in the bamboo forests of this continent, and this is the only similarity between a giant panda and a red panda.

However, you can see them in zoos in Japan.

red panda walking on grass

Where to See Red Pandas in Japan?

Here I am listing the places for your convenience.

1. Nishiyama Zoo
Zoo Opening Hours (Regular): 9 am-4:30 pm.
Closed Day: Monday.
Contact Details: 3-chome-8-10 Sakuramachi, Sabae, Fukui 916-0027, Japan.
Phone: +81 778-51-1001
2. Nagano Chausuyama Zoo
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 4:30pm.
Contact Details: 570-1 Shinonoiutabi, Nagano, 388-8016, Japan.
Phone: +81 26-293-5167
red panda on branch of tree
3. Nogeyama Zoo
Opening Hours: 9:30am - 4:30pm (Last admission 4:00pm).
Off Day: Monday.
Contact Details: 63-10, Oimatsu-cho, Nishi-ku Yokohama, 220-0032, Japan.
Phone: +8045-231-1307

4. Ueno Zoo: Information already provided.

5. Kobe Oji Zoo: Information already provided.

It’s good to contact them before going there, as the time may change for certain conditions.

My long discussion on pandas ends here. I have nothing more to let you know.


So, are there pandas in Japan?

I guess you already have your answer. Though pandas are not native to Japan, you can see them in Japanese zoos.

I have informed you of all the details regarding pandas in Japan.

Now I hope you don’t have any questions left in your mind.

Wishing you a pleasant an

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