Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hokkaido Winter 2013 北海道冬季之旅 - Asahiyama Zoo Train 旭山动物园号

Travelled 09.02.2013

Asahikawa JR Station (1605 hrs) > Sapporo JR Station (1746 hrs)
Fee = 2,420 yen + 2,460 yen (for reserved seats) = 4,880 yen

One round trip per day on stipulated dates (typically in operation on weekends and during the week of Sapporo Snow Festival & Asahikawa Winter Festival). Despite being called "Asahiyama Zoo" Train, this train does not bring you directly to the doorstep of Asahiyama Zoo (I had this misconception too). The train will stop at Asahikawa JR Station and passengers will have to transfer to a local bus (approx 40 mins bus ride) to continue their journey to the zoo.



1st carriage (blue) - Polar Bear; 2nd carriage (orange) - Wolf; 3rd carriage (yellow) - Lion; 4th carriage (green): Chimpanzee
- One of my most looked forward train rides - this train is well liked by both adults and kids. The train is made up of five carriages with different animal themes: polar bear, wolf, lion, chimpanzee and penguin, and each carriage is beautifully wrapped with its own theme. The thought of being able to board this colourful train will make one feel excited and young at heart again!  

Kids playground in 1st carriage; Polar bears and owls "Hug Hug" seats meant for photo taking only
- The 1st carriage is polar bear themed and is virtually a playground for children. A carpeted TV and storybook area will keep the children occupied throughout the journey. Commemorative stamps are found in this carriage and there are a total of five (each representing one of the five themed train carriages) to collect. Staffs, dressed in adorable animal costumes, are constantly surrounded by the kids wherever they go.
2nd carriage - Wolf; animal face stickers pasted on mirror for you to fit your face in
3rd carriage - Lion; A very mild looking lion with pink nose?
- The 2nd to 5th carriages are passenger carriages and the themes are wolf, lion, chimpanzee and penguin, respectively. Adore the details that can be seen in the interior design of the carriages. All the seats are fitted with head covers depicting faces of animals such as polar bear, hippopotamus, squirrel and lion. Stickers with animal facts are pasted on the table on each seat. Each carriage has four "Hug Hug" seats which are made up of adorable large sized stuffed animals such as polar bears, owls, lions, tigers, penguins, hippopotamuses, chimpanzees, etc, and they emerged as the most popular photo taking spots in the entire train. The theme is extended into the toilet as well whereby the mirrors are pasted with stickers of animal face which you can fit your face into! Overall, there are numerous features for everyone to explore and journey will never be boring on board this Asahiyama Zoo Train!
4th carriage - Chimpanzee; Adorable chimpanzee and hippopotamus on "Hug Hug" seats
5th carriage - Penguin; Animal facts found on stickers pasted on tables
- All passengers are issued with beautifully designed boarding certificates which come with lanyards that you can hang over the neck! The boarding certificates come in two different designs for outward and return trips (outwards: Sapporo to Asahikawa). For the return leg, we received the certificate which had a pictorial of penguins. Do note that there is no cafe in operation on this train. Only drinks vending machines are available. Therefore, do grab a ekiben at the train station before boarding the train (if you expect hungriness to creep in during the train ride).

- Felt fortunate to be able to ride onto this version of Asahiyama Zoo train before it underwent a revamp in July 2013. It was redesigned by Hiroshi Abe, an author of picture book and former breeding staff of Asahiyama Zoo. Animals such as giraffes, flamingos, zebras and orangutans have joined the crew with this revamp! Check out its latest look on JR Hokkaido website:

Commemorative stamps: 


  1. Do you think it's necessary to get reserved seats?

    1. Hi! Apologies for the late reply. Yes, all seats on Asahiyama Zoo Train are reserved seating.