One stop south east of Toyohashi Station on the JR Tokaido Line is Futagawa. Once a famous way station on the Tokaido highway between Kyoto and Tokyo, Futagawa is known for its Futagawa Honjin Museum, a restored Edo Period inn. Most visitors to town, however, make for the more modern attractions of Nonhoi Park Zoo & Botanical Garden.
A short walk over the river from JR Futagawa Station, Nonhoi Park packs a small zoo, a botanical garden and a fun fair all in to the one site.
Popular with families and dating couples from as far afield as Nagoya and Hamamatsu, visitors can "enjoy" lions, tigers, bears, penguins and an assortment of animals from Australia. There is also a kids' zoo with sheep, donkeys, pigs and goats. Conditions for the animals seemed about par for the course for most small scale zoos. Not great, especially for the big cats and elephants, but not terrible either. There is also a small Natural History Museum (Tel: 0532 41 4747) on site with reconstructions of dinosaur fossils.
The tropical glass houses of the botanical garden is well done and outside there is a rose garden, Japanese-style garden and even a water-lily garden recreating the atmosphere of Claude Monet's paintings!
The fun fair section has a big wheel, go-karts and a variety of rides. Scattered throughout the park are a number of restaurants, cafes and refreshment stalls.
Admission: Adults 600 yen; children up to and including Junior High School students 100 yen.
5-10 minute walk south of JR Futagawa Station. Large car parking facilities available just off National Route 1.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008