Machida Squirrel Garden: Tokyo Machida

Hundreds of adventurous squirrels live in colorfully decorated houses in Machida Squirrel Garden's spacious outdoor enclosure, sharing their habitat with a couple of friendly giant tortoises. These squirrels are very acclimated to human visitors, and will enthusiastically eat out of your hand, or at least out of the protective oven mitt that you'll be issued along with your Y100 bag of sunflower seeds.

Since you're doling out sunflower seeds one by one - the squirrels have to shell them individually - a single bag will last awhile and is a solid investment. We were taken by surprise when some of the more assertive squirrels jumped onto our arms in order to reach the seeds more easily. Long sleeves are recommended.

Another surprise is that the squirrels here all have names - they're marked on the sides of the houses they live in. (We'll admit, though, that we had trouble telling them apart.)

In front of the squirrel zone is a guinea pig village housing at least a hundred guinea pigs, and some fenced-in pens inhabited by rabbits, small tortoises, chipmunks and prairie dogs. A good-sized plate of lettuce and carrots to feed the hungry critters will set you back another Y100, and also lasts a fairly long time.

Picnic tables and vending machines are set up for snack breaks, and next to them is a petting-zoo area for small children, which seems to be open during limited hours on weekends. Parents beware though - when you leave you have to pass through a gift shop stocked with cute, hard-to-resist animal plush toys.

Click on photos below to see larger versions
Machida Squirrel Garden
Tokyo Machida / Animal park
Open 10am-4pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Entrance fee Y400
Average visit time: 30-60 minutes
Machida-shi, Kanaimachi 733-1.
13 minutes by bus from Tsurukawa station (Odakyu line); 14 minutes by bus from Machida station (JR Yokohama line, Odakyu line)