Located on an expansive karst plateau in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Akiyoshi Safari Land in the city of Mine is a great recommendation for visitors touring the area by car. Safari parks are usually associated with fun for kids, but this one has a lot in store for adults as well!
Accessible Safari Land
To get to the safari land, exit the expressway and continue on the Ogori-Hagi road (motorized vehicles only). If you get off at the Edo IC, it only takes 3 minutes to reach the park. You drive directly through the entrance and into the safari zone.
An 8km Safari Course
With the Akiyoshidai mountains in the background, you can see animals relaxing all over the park. Our safari course started off with the Elephant Sanctuary and herbivores.
At the Elephant Sanctuary, the adorable Dai-kun greeted us with a cute pose. He is one of only two African forest elephants in Japan! In human years, he is about the age of a high-schooler. He has gentle eyes and is quite lovely. Other animals in the zone include a harem of deers and dinosaur-like Indian rhinos. The rhinos look almost as though they’re wearing body armor. A unique sight!
Encountering a Pride of Lions
The road then took us through the areas where American black bears and cheetahs live, and finally to Hatari Valley, the domain of the lions. The car was almost grazing the lions as we navigated through. Even though the windows were closed, to the great excitement of the adults, we could still clearly hear the lions’ deep roars.
In the next zone, a magnificent tiger laid waiting for us on a rock. The safari land road has two lanes, so visitors can enjoy amazing sights like this at their own leisurely pace. Even though I knew there was a window between me and the tiger, its intense, piercing gaze made me quail.
The Feeding Bus
There is one more thing that every visitor to Akiyoshi Safari Land has to experience: feeding time. Visitors can feed the animals from onboard a bus – not the well-known cat bus from the Studio Ghibli movies, but a white tiger bus. As our bus pulled up to the feeding area, zebras, camels, elephants and other herbivores swiftly gathered around.
Hair-Raising Feeding Time
The king of beasts – the lion! I picked up a piece of meat with tongs and as I passed it through the tiny window, the lion opened its giant mouth and bit into the meat! At this close range, I could almost hear the lion’s breathing. An extremely intense experience!
Playing With The Animals
After enjoying the safari zone to our hearts’ content, we went to say hello to the animals in the petting area. Here you can also feed the giraffes. Their legs are about the height of an average human, and standing next to one reconfirms that they really are huge! They stretch their long necks to get up close to the visitors.
At the small animals area, adults (only) can try holding a hedgehog. You can also visit capybaras and kangaroos, and freely pet and take pictures with various animals.
Spectacular Weekend Events
Every weekend at Akiyoshidai Safari Land, visitors can behold the flight of the marabou stork. A huge stork, with a whopping 2.5 meter wingspan, swoops in right above the heads of the onlookers!
Akiyoshidai Safari Land offers a myriad of exciting experiences for adults and children alike. Please go and experience it for yourself!
Akiyoshidai Safari Land
Visitors can enjoy seeing 600 animals up close (60 different species) within the 44 hectare area.
Address: 1212 Mitochoka, Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Open: 9:30 – 17:00 (4/1 – 9/30), 9:30 – 16:30 (10/1 – 3/31) ※ Last entry 45 min before closing.
Closed: Open throughout the year.
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Nana Takei
■The Sanin, Setouchi & Shikoku Road Map
Our sightseeing information roadmap of the Sanin, Setouchi, and Shikoku regions is now complete. The map provides easily accessible sightseeing info like never before, and with this, your road-trip is sure to be even more enjoyable. The map contains info on rent-a-car services, tourist information centers, roadside service areas, and is completely free-of-charge, so please have a look!
■Times Car Rental Tourist Information Campaign
The car rental company Times Mobility Networks Co., Ltd. is now offering a voice translation app and tourist information services for foreign travelers via tablets at several Times Car Rental stores throughout the Setouchi region. Renting a car at one of these stores means you can get more sightseeing info about specific areas, and therefore enjoy your trip even more!
Osaka: Kansai Airport
Hyogo: Sannomiya Station, Shinkobe Station, Himeji Station
Okayama: Okayama Airport, Okayama Station, Kurashiki Station
Hiroshima: Hiroshima Airport, Hiroshima Station South Exit (BIGFRONT Hiroshima), Hiroshima Otemachi
Yamaguchi: Iwakunikintaikyo Airport, Iwakuni Station, Ube Airport
Tokushima: Tokushima Airport, Tokushima Chuo
Kagawa: Takamatsu Station, Takamatsu Airport
Ehime: Matsuyama Station, Matsuyama Airport, Matsuyama Sanbancho
Fukuoka: Fukuoka Airport International Terminal
Nov. 20, 2017 – Feb. 19, 2018
※ Hiroshima stores only: Oct. 20, 2017 – Jan. 19, 2018.
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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