Tennoji Zoo (Osaka)

Japanese school children near the Red panda cage

Tennoji Zoo is located in Tennjoji Park, Osaka, Japan. It was funny when I discovered it because it was right inside the city. A small zoo about a few minutes walks from where I stayed. One minute you walk in the streets full of shops, on the other side a zoo.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a big zoo, so you won’t find many animals as you might be expected. That being said, it’s not too small either and it’s a great attraction for kids and for anyone who wants to take a little break from the buzzing city life.

Aside from that, you might see animals that you haven’t seen before aside from the Giraffe, Deer, Penguin, Lion and other animals that you usually see on almost any zoo. Of course, there are some animal species that might look similar but are of a different species.

Usually when I got to the zoo is for relaxing and taking a few snaps, but I do read the signs from time to time. Especially when I encounter an animal that I haven’t seen before.

I did wish there was a Panda bear there. I saw one in Tokyo, nut no, no Panda bear to be seen in this zoo, unfortunately.

Let’s take a look at some photos taken at Osaka Tennoji Zoo on March 5, 2019. Taken using my OnePlus 6 smartphone.

I saw many groups of Japanese local kids with their teacher hanging around there. You see them wearing a school uniform with cute hats on their heads. You can see it in one of the pictures that I’ve taken.

There is a little dark area where you can find unique animals that are sensitive to light or live in the dark and they don’t put them outside. They need to be in a controlled environment. However, it was hard to capture photos there, let aside to locate some of the animals. I was able to capture a cute photo of a bat lying on the ground.

There was a one really cool area where you can see the Hippopotamus swimming underwater (see in the image gallery). Usually, you see them lying in a pond. What the Japanese zoo designers did was to put a pool with transparent glass, so visitors can see what’s happening inside the water.

There was some cute penguins, lazy lions, an amazing tiger that you couldn’t ignore its presence.

There is a nice selection of exotic animals that you might haven’t seen in the US or other regions of the world. If you come with your kids, there are fun animal cars to put the kids in (for a fee).

Photography Notes

I was capturing all the photos with my Android smartphone. One of the biggest caveats is that it doesn’t have an optical zoom. I am so happy that I got a DSLR camera because it’s really annoying shooting in the zoo with a fixed focal length wide lens.

I wanted to get closer to the animals which obviously for security reasons wherein cages and a bit far away from the path. Another reason is that I couldn’t achieve a satisfying bokeh, if at all because the animals were relatively far away from me. You can get pretty shots if you have a telephoto lens with a bright aperture lens. This way you can achieve a prominent defocused background effect. That reduces many of the distracting background elements in the photos and help brings the subject up, which is the animal of course.

My recommendation: bring a camera with a high focal length optical zoom lens (higher than 50mm equivalent). This can be either a bridge camera, an interchangeable lens camera like a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, a mobile phone with a telephoto prime lens or an optical zoom lens.

You can achieve some nice wide-angle shot like the one that I’ve captured with the Japanese school kids looking at the animals. The thing is that most mobile phone cameras, bridge cameras, and kit lenses have a wide-angle lens to start with. I’m pretty sure many of you do have a mobile phone that comes with a wide-angle lens, almost all phones do.

Overall, I can say that I’ve seen much better, and there are things that I didn’t like much, as the small enclosure and the zoo looked a bit dated overall. but again, the zoo is in the middle of the city, very accessible and easy to walk around by foot with the entire family. I personally went there because I wanted to take a break and I did enjoy my time there. Kids will love it, so I definitely recommend it for families with kids.

Official website: osaka.lj.jp (In English).
Admission fees: 500 yen (Adult), 200 yen (Elementary and junior high school students), Free for preschool children.

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