When most people think of safaris, I am almost certain that no one would think of the lowlands around the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji in Japan! Yet, the Fuji Safari Park in Susono City located at the foot of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture offers just that!
The Fuji Safari Park opened in 1980 and was the first safari-style attraction of its kind in Japan. The park is divided into two zones: The Safari Zone and The Free Contact Zone. The latter is a zoo consisting of enclosures for smaller mammals and a petting station. The Safari Zone is divided into seven sections which houses bears, lions, tigers, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, etc. Visitors can tour these sections in several ways including their own car, a rental vehicle or a bus.
The buses are decorated to resemble animals and contain wire netting over the windows. Passengers are provided with vegetables, pellets and meat which they can feed to the animals at close range. There is an additional charge for taking the bus, which includes the food to feed the animals. If you drive your own car through the park you are instructed to keep your car windows and doors locked at all times and it is easy to understand why. If you encounter a problem, rangers in SUVs are present to help. It takes approximately 30 minutes to drive through each of the seven sections. There are 4WD sport utility vehicles equipped with a navigation system available to rent as well. The rental fee is ¥5,000 and the vehicles seat up to seven passengers. A valid driver’s license recognized by Japan is required for renting these vehicles.
From April through October, the park offers a night safari. Visitors are provided with night-vision equipment to observe the animals in their nocturnal setting.
For an additional fee, visitors can participate in horse drawn cart rides, pony rides and have their pictures taken with baby animals. There are also cat, dog, rabbit houses and a guinea pig area where visitors can spend time holding and playing with the different animals.
If you get hungry, there is a large canteen-type family restaurant on the premises. There are also several food stalls selling everything from hot dogs to shaved ice. If you choose to pack your own picnic lunch, there are plenty of benches and seating outdoors where you can enjoy your meal.
Lastly, you need not leave the park empty handed as there is a nice souvenir shop too.
The safari park is easily accessible via the Tokaido Shinkansen, exit the Mishima Station. From there, a local bus will transport you to the park within 30 minutes or so.
Web Page: http://www.fujisafari.co.jp/english/
Address: 2255-27 Aza Fujiwara, Susono-shi, Shizuoka