I’m sure that for many people including myself, there are not a LOT of opportunities to visit Asa Kita-ku unless you work or live there. However, there are actually quite a number of amazing and delicious places to have lunch or dinner in this area. Today, I’ll be introducing one of my favorite ways to spend a day in this area of Hiroshima prefecture.
I like to think of Asa Zoo as more like a hiking trail, just because of the way the entire park is built and constructed; it’s more like taking an easy hike while visiting the animals’ homes, than enjoying a day at the zoo. When I visited, the entire area was filled with different homes for each animal, and the twists and turns of each path took me to many different places. In fact, there were so many paths and places to discover, I don’t think I even got to see all the animals. There were also a lot of small hills to go up and down that at one point, I ended up arriving at one of the highest points of Asa Zoo where I was leveled with the vast mountains surrounding Asa Kita district, and looking down at the animals roaming around in their homes. It actually made the place seem like I was visiting a natural forest or jungle rather than visiting a zoo. I hope the picture conveys what I’m trying to say!
Honestly, by the time I was leaving, I was sweaty and panting from the long day of walking; it really felt more like a hiking trail rather than a kids’ zoo park.
The other thing I really enjoyed about Asa zoo was the fact that I could really observe and see the animals living in their normal habitat – from up close and from far away. I believe that they let out the animals into the bigger areas at different times so you have the chance to catch them from up close before they go away. For example, I was able to see this adorable tapir from pretty up close because he was still inside, but the lions were already roaming around in a much larger area that I could only say hello from afar.
This is one of the many points that made me fall in love with the zoo – it really felt like I was in their world, rather than mine.
There were also a lot of schemes and devices set up around the park so that I could actively experience the life of the animals. Here are just a few I picked up on:
・There was a tug of war device around the monkey area where half of it was outside and the other half was inside so that you could actually enjoy playing tug of war with the monkeys! (Although the day I went, I had to wait a pretty long time before a monkey was even slightly interested in joining the game)
・There was a big bird area (there were different types of ducks) where I could actually go inside the habitat and walk around. It was like entering an exquisite realm. (I unfortunately don’t have a picture of this, so you’ll have to go to see for yourself)
・There was another area for smaller birds where you could enter a sort of small jungle and the minute you entered, there would be a bird flying over your head. This place was particularly loud.
・There was an area where you could see rabbits living underground.
・There was also a place where you could look into the pond through a glass box so that you could feel as if you were looking at the fish from inside the water. (This was also very difficult to photograph, so you’ll have to see for yourself what this is all about!)
I felt like all of these little things made the park feel quite special and extra fun – even for older adults, but especially for younger kids.
There was also a 動物科学館 (museum), where you can learn more animal facts, as well as participate in various activities.
Asa zoo also holds a variety of events every day at certain times. Here is the list of ongoing daily events.
An inside into the world famous Japanese giant Salamander that lives in Asa Zoo.
A tour into the backyard of Asa zoo
There are several ongoing events in this area – you can ride a pony, touch the guinea pigs and rabbits, go into the goat pen and much much more. This is one of the most popular places in Asa zoo!
Here is a funny picture I took of the pig enjoying a nice back rub from one of the employees, and all the goats coming to watch.
This is an event where you can witness different animal feedings (lions, otters and baboons).
This is a tour where a professional comes in to talk about different animals and facts about them you probably didn’t know.
An interesting quiz you can try out!
There are so many events that it’s quite impossible to try them out all in a day.
The park also has many places that are perfect for a picnic. Unfortunately I’d left home very early in the morning to arrive at the zoo by 9am so I didn’t have anything ready that day, but I saw quite a few families enjoying a picnic outside. There are also two cafes called 「食堂 バクバク」and「軽食喫茶 どんぐり」, both of which you can eat at while enjoying watching the animals.
And just to end things off, I’d like to introduce the turtles. Apparently today, they had all decided to huddle up in one specific area:
There was also one single turtle that had decided he would not join the rest and stay inside alone:And here is another picture of a different set of turtles that had decided to line up on the edge of the pond like so:
It was quite a funny sight to see.
After visiting the zoo, I decided to go for lunch at a well known spaghetti restaurant called Spaghetti N34, which is actually named this way because of its coordinates: north latitude 34°.
It is actually pretty well known for having a fantastic view that overlooks the city, and I’d been wanting to go for a while after discovering it on instagram.
I’ll leave the link for their instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/_n34_spaghetti/?hl=ja
And here is what the restaurant looks like from inside:
The view is really something else.
One of the other interesting points about the restaurant is that the menu is based on ‘Japanese’ pasta. Japan is pretty well known for creating a vast variety of flavors for snacks, for example, we have a huge variety of kit kats only available in Japan like macha, flavor and Nihonshu (日本酒）. As a result, we also have a lot of pasta recipes invented here in Japan. One of my favorites is たらこスパゲティ、made mainly from butter and cod roe, which was actually made by the founder of famous spaghetti restaurant 「壁の穴」in the 1960s. If you’ve never tried it, please give it a go, it is very easy to make at home and is very, very good.
So here at Spaghetti N34, the chef specializes in making Japanese spaghetti and I’m not going to lie, he does a pretty amazing job!
I decided to go for the 「椎茸としめじの木の子スパゲティ」which was made of different mushrooms, bacon and flavoured with a shoyu based sauce.
It was delicious! It literally tasted like what I used to have as a kid sometimes, and it was everything I’d been looking forward to that day.
My moment of joy for the day was definitely while I was eating their delicious pasta while enjoying the view. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a restaurant that gave off such a comfortable yet luxurious vibe. I definitely would like to visit again; for the food and for the view.
I was also actually impressed with the carrot based salad sauce – it was genuinely, really good! I think they actually sold them in smaller bottles as well if you’re really in love with the sauce.
I definitely recommend the restaurant but there are a few points you must be aware of before going:
- Unfortunately, you can not reserve beforehand. If you’d like a seat facing the open window, you have to get there earlier than 11:00 as there is only enough for around eight or nine people. I arrived at 11:15 and the best seats were already taken and I had to take a table seat behind.
- There is only one chef running the kitchen so it takes quite a bit of time for the food to arrive. I think I had to wait a good forty to fifty minutes before I was served.
- It is a little expensive. Because the only way to access the area is to drive, I couldn’t enjoy some good wine or alcohol to go with it, and I feel as if it was a little expensive for the dish I got. However, it’s definitely a must go if you’ve never been before, and the location, vibe and atmosphere of the restaurant is definitely worth the visit.
And here we have it: the perfect guide to spending your weekend in Asa Kita district. I thoroughly enjoyed spending a nice morning walk at Asa zoo, whilst enjoying the company of many different animals, and then going for lunch at the luxurious Spaghetti N34. It was one of the most relaxing and fun trips I’d had in a while, and I would definitely recommend it 10/10 for anyone hoping for a fun, spontaneous, morning outside of the city.
There is a bus stop called 安佐動物園(Asa doubutsuen) and the park is a minute walk from there. However, I do recommend taking a car as it is only about a twenty to thirty minute drive from centre Hiroshima. The restaurants around are also pretty inaccessible by public transport.
To get to N34, there is a bus stop called Bishamondai Sanchome and it is only a 7 minute walk from there, but then again, it is a bit of a hassle accessing here and I do recommend taking the car.
Please note that it is only about a ten minute drive from Asa Zoo to Spaghetti N34.