Japan's Cute Capybara: From Tropical Jungle Animals to Bathing Superstars!

Japan's Cute Capybara: From Tropical Jungle Animals to Bathing Superstars!

Date published: 3 December 2018
Last updated: 30 November 2018

A country known for its bathing culture, Japan is showing the world that hot springs aren't just for people! At Izu Shaboten Zoo Park, several cuddly capybara - the world's largest (and cutest?) rodent - have become quite famous for taking extended dips in hot baths. And now you, too, can snap photos of these adorable animals up close!

Izu Shaboten Zoo Park first began breeding capybara in 1966, when the animals were a very rare sight in Japan. Visitors soon fell in love with the adorable mammals.

Winters can be quite cold in Japan, and as capybara are native to jungle habitats in South America, this discovery led zoo staff to imagine that creating hot springs for the capybara might help them better get through the cold season.

Turns out they were right, and for 36 years the zoo has been holding its annual "Capybara Open-Air Bath" event - now one of the area's most popular tourist draws!

From now until April 17, 2019, you can drop by Izu Shaboten Zoo Park and watch these adorable characters as they soak in the warm water from 1:30PM weekdays and from 10:30AM and 1:30PM on weekends and holidays.

Other events and photo opportunities are available as well, making so much fun for the whole family!

  • Izu Shaboten Zoo
    • Address 1317-13 Futo, Itō, Shizuoka Prefecture 413-0231
    • Nearest Station From JR Atami Station, take the JR Ito Line to Ito Station. From there, it is approximately 35 min by Tokai Bus.
      (If getting off at Izukogen Station on the Izu Kyuko Line, it takes around 20 min by Tokai Bus or 15 min by taxi.)
    • Phone Number 0557-51-1111

    Hours: Open daily. March - October: 9:00AM-5:00PM / November - February: 9:00AM - 4:00PM

    Entrance fees:
    Junior High Age and Older: 2,300 yen
    Elementary School Children: 1,100 yen
    Toddlers (4 Years Old+): 400 yen
    Senior Discount Price (70+): 1,900 yen

Spots showcased in the article

  1. Izu Shaboten Zoo

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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.