Kyoto City Zoo ‘Library Cafe’

Zoo caretakers will tell you how fascinating animals are.

Text : Ayumu Sasaki / Photo : Naoki Matsuda

  Kyoto City Zoo was opened in 1903 and it was the second zoo in Japan. They started renovating 7 years ago and finally fully opened in the autumn of 2015. Visitors can get much closer to the animals than before and see them on the same eye level. As a result of the idea of animal exhibition style, more people who are fascinated by animals come to visit the zoo than before.

  At the same time of their renovation, they also opened a library cafe with no admission fee. Visitors for the zoo can take a rest and moreover, children who want to know more about animals can reach their photo books and illustrated books. You can visit this cafe without going inside the zoo, so that there are a number of people stop by here and take a look at all these animal books on the way to Okazaki Park.

  A library itself was here before, but they also renovated this place into a new style as well. In addition to a collection of Meiji-era to recent years, about 6,000 books line up here in collaboration with Yoshitaka Haba, a book director.  The vice director of Kyoto City Zoo and a veterinarian, Hidefusa Sakamoto informed, “The interesting point of this library is that we don’t line up books based on the Library Act, but we classify them by their kinds. I don’t think that there would no other places like this having all these kinds of animal books such as an illustrated book, photo book, picture book, even manga book”.

  Mr. Sakamoto also said, “This library is managed by zoo caretakers. On the wall side, all the books are sorted out by kinds of animals, but we also have some bookshelves only for a certain theme irregularly. We do have, ‘Do we have anything to learn from a monkey’ section, since we collaborate with Kyoto University, and there are more sections like, ‘Listen a bird’s voice’ and ‘Masterpiece collection of animal picture book’ as well”.

  Mr. Sakamoto’s recommendation will be 3 books of Twin white bears by Hiroshi Ave, Kodansha Ltd. He said, “The author used to be a zoo caretaker at Asahiyama Zoo before and he illustrated all these animals lively through his experiences”.

  There is a cafe at the entrance of the library. This coffee shop, ‘SLOW JET COFFEE’ was chosen by open calls and this is the first library cafe in Kansai area. It is very popular among families and couples because they can read books and stay at the cafe. You can even use a terrace seat and enjoy a cup of coffee with animal books.

  There are precious collections which was published in Meiji-era, and  you can see some stuffed animals: crocodile, owl, raccoon and etc everywhere. On the second floor, they have a photo exhibition in order to do a research presentation by animal researchers at the zoo.

  Mr. Sakamoto informed, “We have ‘Night library cafe talk show’ once in a month since last December. Animal researchers at the zoo and young researchers from Kyoto University are able to talk here and it is more like a zoo for adult people. Visitors can enjoy coffee while researchers are talking”. It starts from 5:30 p.m. for an hour and only for the first 20 who reserve their seats. You can check out their web site for the announcement.

  “Please stop by here and spend a time any ways you want at this library. This is the zoo created by the public and we would like to listen what everyone needs and make it happen to create the better zoo. I also want to use the library for a local community tool as well”.



ADDRESS : Inside Okazaki Park, Okazaki Hoshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)

PHONE : +81(0)75-771-0210

HOURS : 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. from Dec ~ Feb will be till 4:30 p.m.

CLOSED : open throughout the year