Donguri, The Most Important Capybara in Japan. At Nagasaki Bio Park. どんぐり。日本で最も重要なカピバラ. 長崎バイオパークで

Donguri

Donguri

 

Donguri’s sweet personality, and gentle disposition have made her’s the most sought after bloodline in Japan.  She is related to all the capybaras at the Bio Park except, of course, for the Boss Capy (the breeding male), Toku.  She is their mother, grandmother, great grandmother or aunt.

どんぐりの甘い性格、優しい気質は彼女が最も日本で血統引っ張りだこだてきました。  長崎バイオパークで14カピバラの9。彼女の母親や祖母です。

Donguri, I Love the Look in Her Eyes

Donguri, I Love the Look in Her Eyes

She is the grandmother of many of the Boss (breeding) males at other zoos in Japan.  The Nagasaki Bio Park bloodlines are highly prized in Japan because they breed to the  capybaras with the most gentle, least aggressive character.

I could learn a lot from Donguri about patience and acceptance.

This is a video we made of Donguri   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWH7Ox8iL2c

The first year I visited the Bio Park Donguri mostly didn’t want to be pampered and scratched.  She seemed quite happy to have me gently stroke her. I believe she was nervous that Aki would be jealous and take it out on her. Her sister Aki was number one in the Bio Park hierarchy mainly because she was a much more aggressive capybara than Donguri. (The following year, with Aki tragically no longer here, Donguri was much more relaxed and loved me petting her). I can still feel her warm, powerful body under my hand.  It’s the first time I really felt a Capybara!

 

I love that smile. Donguri has the most beautiful smile of any capybara I've ever met.

I love that smile. Donguri has the most beautiful smile of any capybara I’ve ever met.

Donguri and Me

When we first started visiting the Bio Park, little baby Io and an adult capybara, who I assumed was his mother (I later found out that Donguri is Io’s mother), were always on Capuchin Island in the morning until the watermelons arrived.  I think she wanted to protect her son from noisy human visitors.  Towards the end of our time visiting the Bio Park, when I had established a relationship with Donguri, she was always sitting by OUR  bench,  when we arrived in the morning.

我々は最初のバイオパークを訪れたとき。8月早い。赤ちゃんイオとどんぐり(母)は、カプチン島に常にあった。12.00で、我々が到着したとき。後でどんぐりと私は友達になりました。この後。どんぐりは12.00で私たちのベンチの横にあった。私を待っている。

Donguri and her Little Son Baby Io are playing together in the pond. They are very affectionate and playful with each other.

Donguri and her Little Son Baby Io are playing together in the pond. They are very affectionate and playful with each other.

Being Pampered and looking so adorable:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWH7Ox8iL2c

Donguri has a greenish tinge to her! This is because she spends so much time in the water keeping out of Aki’s way. She is surprisingly agile and playful in the pond, especially if Yasushi is around. She and her sister Aki are part of a love triangle, vying for Yasushi’s attention. Aki is a much more dominant character. She will bark at Donguri or chase her away if she feels Donguri is getting too close to Yasushi.

Yasushi and Donguri

Yasushi and Donguri

Donguri and Aki adore charismatic, handsome Yasushi. Donguri and Aki are sisters, but with quite different personalities. Donguri is the most sweet natured animal you could ever imagine. Aki is number one in the female hierarchy at the Bio Park. You usually only become number one through intimidation and size. Donguri is actually larger than Aki, so Aki’s position owes most to the fact that, unlike Donguri, she will fight her ground.    In the love triangle, this means that Aki is always keeping an eye on Yasushi,  making sure the other females, especially Donguri, don’t get too close to him.

 

Donguri sleeping

Donguri sleeping

Aki, in the foreground, rolls around playfully to attract Yasushi's interest. Donguri looks on, slightly perturbed (on the right)

Aki, in the foreground, rolls around playfully to attract Yasushi’s interest. Donguri looks on, slightly perturbed (on the right)

 

 

Donguri patiently accepts this situation. Sometimes managing to lie beside Yasushi, sometimes resting her head on his body, sometimes nuzzling him under the chin, which Yasushi loves, sending him into paroxysms of bliss and ecstasy.

Donguri is Yasushi’s favorite.  I always felt sorry for Donguri as she patiently waited by Yasushi’s side, hoping he would show some interest in her and nuzzle her.  In many of my  photos you can see Aki on the right nuzzling Yasushi, in the middle, with poor left out Donguri on the left.  Yasushi is in ecstasy, he just loves being nuzzled under his chin.

Later Aki swims off coquettishly.  Donguri lays her head on Yasushi’s body, hoping for a response.  When he ignores her, she lifts her head.

You can watch this bitter sweet Capybara romance in this video.   And, you can hear their love calls!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86MXl0-BUIM

どんぐりと彼女の強引な姉アキはやすしを崇拝。この三角関係は、長崎バイオパークへの我々の訪問の間に大きく紹介。 8月の終わりに向かって康はAkiに興味が見えた。キーパーの一つは、どんぐりが妊娠していたと述べた。靖はアキと跳ねることは意味をなさないと思います。通常はどんぐりは靖のお気に入りです。私はいつも、どんぐりを気の毒に感じました。彼女は辛抱強く靖の側で待っていた。彼女は彼が彼女に興味を示すことを望んだ。そして、彼女を鼻で掘り出す。この写真では、右nuzzling靖にアキを見ることができます。靖は、中央にある。悲しい、無視され、どんぐりは左側にあります。靖は、エクスタシーになっています。彼は彼のあごの下nuzzledさが大好きです。

後でアキはコケティッシュにオフ泳ぐ。どんぐりは靖の体に頭を産む。彼女は応答を期待している。彼は彼女を無視します。彼女は頭を持ち上げる。
この動画では、この苦い甘いカピバラ恋愛を見ることができます。そして、あなたは彼らの愛のeepsを聞くことができます!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86MXl0-BUIM

In this video you can see Aki just behind Yasushi, looking very superior, like a prim maiden aunt:

Donguri Resting in the Feed Tray

You can see the green tinge on the top of her body quite clearly in this video,  “Pampering Donguri”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brltiUUIhbM

 

Donguri Rolling on her Back as I Lovingly Pamper and Scratch Her

From my Diary, 14th August 2012:   I  had a fabulous day. Donguri came over to me for the first time. And she rolled over and let me scratch her tummy.

Sunday 19th August;

A wonderful thing and a very disappointing thing happened yesterday.  The wonderful thing came from an animal, the very disappointing thing from a human…what a surprise…

Donguri was waiting for us by the bench we always sit on when we arrived in the morning.   After watermelon time she came and sat by us for over an hour until she was frightened away by some children.  This is very unusual for her.  Like many of the older Capybaras she doesn’t seem to especially enjoy being pampered.   These older capys often sit away from the main pampering area, sometimes in semi-hiding, or disappear into the pond.  Donguri usually heads for the pond after watermelon time.  On this occasion she did not join the other Capybaras to eat watermelon but spent the time on top of one of the food troughs hungrily eating left over breakfast vegetables. She was obviously very hungry but must have sensed that Aki was in a particularly aggressive mood.   I sneaked her a piece of watermelon when the keeper wasn’t looking. I will never forget the look of gratitude in her eyes. Capybaras have exceptionally expressive eyes and faces.  The look was unmistakeable.   It was a wonderful feeling knowing I had brought her such happiness, tinged with sadness realising how much she loves watermelon and yet so often she has to forego eating it because of Aki.

Donguri, with her back to us. Having an after lunch nap near Yasushi, with her son Little Baby Io, and Yuzu in the background

A video of Donguri Eating    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OxaGQ6jpGc

On the last Friday in August, after watermelon time, the capys were lazing around, snoozing and being pampered.  I was sitting with Donguri, when suddenly she started calling very shrilly and plaintively.  After a few of these cries she got up and walked toward Fujiko’s enclosure, still calling, followed by Ayu.   None of the other capys reacted.  She seemed worried (and I tried to reassure her!).  Hinase was in the pond but came ashore soon after.  I, of course, had not heard a thing.   Capybaras communicate in the infrasonic and ultrasonic sound ranges, which humans cannot hear.   Donguri is Fujiko’s mother, Ayu and Hinase are Fujiko’s daughters.  So mother and daughters of pregnant Fujiko are very concerned about her and probably worried by her absence from the herd.  She was removed from the herd, 3 weeks earlier,  in early August because she is pregnant.  She gave birth to 2 babies on 14th September.

When we arrived that morning the entire herd had been next to the boundary with Fujiko’s enclosure;  calling plaintively.

The herd cannot see Fujiko but they can hear her.  They are very worried about her.  Every afternoon her daughters Ayu and Hinase go and sit at the boundary of their enclosure closest to Fujiko.  In this video Donguri, Fujiko’s mother is sitting beside me by the pond, a long way away from the boundary.  She suddenly starts to make these ‘very worried’ calls.  She sits up and looks at me as if asking for my help to take her to Fujiko. (I so wish I had the authority to do this).  Then she walks over to the boundary fence, followed by Ayu.  Hinase who has been in the pond far away joins them.  It must be very stressful for Fujiko to be on her own, especially as she is pregnant.  Capybaras are such social animals.

Donguri, Master of The Food Trough

藤子は、妊娠している。誰も彼女が出産する時期もわからない。彼女は3週間前に群れから離れて移動しました。群れは彼女を見ることはできません。群れは彼女を聞くことができます。非常に彼女を心配した。毎日午後娘あゆと日生は、エンクロージャの境界に座る。不二子に最も近い。このビデオで。どんぐり、藤子さんの母親は、池に私の横に座っている。離れて境界から長い道のり。彼女は突然、これらの “非常に心配” eepsを作ることから始まります。彼女は起きている。彼女は私を見ている。私の助けを求める。”藤子に連れていってください”。 (私はそう私はこれを行うための権限があればいいのに)。それから彼女は境界柵に上を歩く。あゆがついてくる。日生池になっています。遠く池。日生は、それらを結合します。それは不二子のために非常にストレスになる必要があります。不二子は単独です。そして、彼女は妊娠している。カピバラは、非常に社会的な動物です。

I find this video fascinating.  Donguri is very worried because her daughter Fujiko has been taken away from the herd.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a3DZxFsFiU

Capybaras do seem to like to have their food brought to them and put right under their noses, rather than have to forage for it as they would in the wild.

 

Donguri and her little son Io often play together in the pond. Here he is nuzzling his mother under the chin, which she adores

Donguri and her little son Io often play together in the pond. Here he is nuzzling his mother under the chin, which she adores

 

Donguri, the most sweet and caring of the incredibly gentle capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park, kisses her baby son Io. She stayed like this for some time, with her lips pressed affectionately to Io's neck. They then play together and he nuzzled her and she nuzzled him. It was really heartwarming to behold

Donguri, the most sweet and caring of the incredibly gentle capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park, kisses her baby son Io. She stayed like this for some time, with her lips pressed affectionately to Io’s neck. They then play together and he nuzzled her and she nuzzled him. It was really heartwarming to watch

Waiting for the watermelons to arrive in the photo below.   Of course Donguri is not there…gentle Donguri would rather miss out on the watermelon she loves than face the intimidation from Aki.

The most interesting capybara I have ever met. I love the way her bottom lip is hanging down as she dreams

The most interesting capybara I have ever met. I love the way her bottom lip is hanging down as she dreams

On our last Sunday a whole crowd of children felt sorry for her and brought her pieces of watermelon and bought containers of pellets for her. It made me so happy to see how much people loved her and felt sorry for her

On one occasion when I was feeding Donguri, the rest of the herd left ‘en masse’ for the pond.  Donguri started calling frantically.  Either she was saying “Wait for me, I’m just coming”.  Or she was saying to me “Please hurry up and feed me because I have to go”.

After watermelon time all the Capybaras had a nap.  I sat beside her some of the time and then went to buy food pellets to feed her.  Other people also brought her food pellets. I noticed that she always ate the pellets I placed under her nose even when she appeared to be asleep.  But during her naptime she ignored the pellets brought by strangers and held under her nose.  I know she was very hungry and I have tried to understand why she only took pellets from me.  All I can think is that in her semi conscious state her brain processed the scent of a friend in a different way, that transcended the consciousness barrier.

Donguri adores Yasushi.  She often follows him around in the pond, putting her head lovingly on his back, nuzzling him.  She is his favorite.

Videos Of Donguri:

Donguri looks adorable as she picks over the bamboo.  She waited till the other capybaras had pretty much finished, because she doesn’t like them fighting with her over the best bits.  Consquently there wasn’t much left for her.  I had already taken as many branches to her as I could pull off.

彼女は竹食べるようにどんぐりが愛らしい見えます。他のカピバラが終わったまで、彼女は待っていた。彼女はそれらが彼女と一緒に戦って好きではない。最高の竹のために。そのため、彼女のためにずっと残っていませんでした。私はすでに彼女に多くの枝を取っていた。                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNq0WSPEgOU

Donguri Looking Exceptionally Cute and Blissful:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWH7Ox8iL2c

Donguri Eating Vegetables!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OxaGQ6jpGc

Donguri Eating a Stone:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfRr94nL8WU

Donguri Being Petted and looking very sweet:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brltiUUIhbM

Yamato is Donguri’s son.  He has inherited her sweet placid disposition.  He used to live at Torius Zoo,Fukuoka,  but he moved to Omiya Park Zoo, Saitama, earlier this year, where he now lives with Koharu.   They took to each other immediately and babies are expected.   Yamato would be the ideal Boss Capybara (breeding male) at a leading zoo.  He has such excellent personal traits and character.

ヤマトはどんぐりの息子です。彼は彼女の甘い穏やかな気質を受け継いでいる。彼はTorius動物園、福岡に住んでいました。彼は今年の初めに、大宮パーク動物園、埼玉県に引っ越しました。彼は今、小春と一緒に住んでいます。彼らはすぐにお互いが好きだった。赤ちゃんが期待されています。大和は、主要な動物園で理想の上司カピバラ(繁殖オス)となります。彼は、そのような優秀な個人特性とキャラクターを持っています。

Yamato, Donguri's Son, Pretending to be a Guineapig, at Torius Zoo, Fukuoka. Photo by Motoko Iwata

Yamato, Donguri’s Son, Pretending to be a Guineapig, at Torius Zoo, Fukuoka. Photo by Motoko Iwata

Here’s a video of Yamato pretending to be a guineapig.  (Video made by Motoko Iwata, Persiamoco on Youtube)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr8KxSNenw8

You can always recognise Donguri because one of her toes faces the wrong way

I do miss her. She is so calm and patient…an excellent role model for humans

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How To Get To Nagasaki Bio Park. It’s very easy. 長崎バイオパークへの到達方法。

The View from the Top of the Hill Just before You Enter the Capybara Enclosure.

The View from the Top of the Hill Just before You Enter the Capybara Enclosure.

To see the Enchanting Capybaras.   Of course there are lots of other Animals, many of which you can pet, and Botanical Gardens.

Having a capybara come over to you and sit affectionately in your lap is the most wonderful experience. Many of the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park will sit on the laps of visitors these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdNE6omkqvM

Visiting Nagasaki Bio Park is very easy to achieve.  The Bio Park is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, The Saikai National Park with over 400 small islands (the Kujukushima Islands and the Gotō Islands).  Hiring a car is expensive, but with GPS you could easily spend a day or two driving around around this scenic area.   Road signs and route numbers are in English.

I would avoid major holidays like Golden Week which runs from about April 29th through May 6th.    This link gives holidays in Japan for 2015:

http://portalseven.com/calendar/Holidays_Japan.jsp?year=2015#page=divHolidayListTab

Nagasaki is an attractive city, with European architectural features from its past as one of the few places in Japan that allowed foreigners to settle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagasaki

Baby Aoba loves to sleep on top of her mother Momiji. Momiji is a fantastic mother. おめでとう!リトル青葉はミイラもみじの上で寝大好き。もみじは素晴らしい母親であります

Baby Aoba loves to sleep on top of her mother Momiji. Momiji is a fantastic mother. おめでとう!リトル青葉はミイラもみじの上で寝大好き。もみじは素晴らしい母親であります

 

Brief History of Japan’s Period of Seclusion:

From 1641 to 1853, the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan enforced a policy which it called kaikin. The policy prohibited foreign contact with most outside countries. However, the commonly held idea that Japan was entirely closed is misleading. In fact, Japan maintained limited-scale trade and diplomatic relations with China, Korea , the Ryukuyu Islands and the Netherlands”

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Sakoku—seclusion from the outside world.   During the early part of the 17th century, the shogunate suspected that foreign traders and missionaries were actually forerunners of a military conquest by European powers. Christianity had spread in Japan, especially among peasants, and the shogunate suspected the loyalty of Christian peasants towards their daimyō, severely persecuting them. This led to a revolt by persecuted peasants and Christians in 1637 known as the Shimabara Rebellion which saw 30,000 Christians, rōnin, and peasants facing a massive samurai army of more than 100,000 sent from Edo. The rebellion was crushed at a high cost to the shōgun’s army.

Hinase's 4 babies spent several hours sleeping as close together as they could possibly be.

Hinase’s 4 babies spent several hours sleeping as close together as they could possibly be.

After the eradication of the rebels at Shimabara, the shogunate placed foreigners under progressively tighter restrictions. It monopolized foreign policy and expelled traders, missionaries, and foreigners with the exception of the Dutch and Chinese merchants who were restricted to the man-made island of Dejima in Nagasaki Bay and several small trading outposts outside the country. However, during this period of isolation (Sakoku) that began in 1635, Japan was much less cut off from the rest of the world than is commonly assumed, and some acquisition of western knowledge occurred under the Rangaku system. Russian encroachments from the north led the shogunate to extend direct rule to Hokkaidō, Sakhalin and the Kuriles in 1807, but the policy of exclusion continued.

The end of this period of seclusion was signalled by the arrival of Commodore Perry on July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy with four warships, the Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna, which steamed into Yokohama bay. He requested that Japan open to trade with the West. These ships became known as the kurofune, the Black Ships.

During this period of isolation the culture of Japan developed with limited influence from the outside world.  Japan had one of the longest stretches of peace in history.   It developed thriving cities and castle towns and increased commodification of agriculture and domestic trade.   This, together with increasing literacy and the concomitant print culture, laid the foundations for modernization, even as the shogunate itself grew weak.

Macaroni and Doughnut, baby capybaras

Macaroni and Doughnut, baby capybaras

As a foreigner, you will find most people will go out of their way to be friendly and helpful;  they want you to have a good impression of their country.  You will be surprised how little English is spoken.   My Japanese friends tell me this is because English lessons at school concentrate on written English, so many people may be able to read and write a little English, but fewer will speak it.

It’s worth checking TripAdvisor to get information and other people’s opinions  on planned accommodation, etc.

www.tripadvisor.com

Yasushi, who has longer hair then many capybaras, responds to being petted by “pilo-erection” – his hair rises in response to the pleasurable stimulus.

Yasushi, who has longer hair then many capybaras, responds to being petted by “pilo-erection” – his hair rises in response to the pleasurable stimulus.

TRANSPORT

There are Information Desks, with English speaking staff, at all the main airports (including Nagasaki), and main Bus and Rail stations, including Sasebo.

Most international flights arrive at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.  British Airways flies to both Haneda Airport, which is closer to Tokyo and from which most domestic flights go, as well as Narita.   From Narita there is a straight forward connection to Tokyo Haneda Airport.  There is a Limousine Bus which costs 3000 Yen per adult, and takes between 65 – 85 minutes depending on traffic.  There is also a rail link;  depending on the time of day, you may have to change trains.  Ask at the Information Desk for details.    For the latest transport information regarding travel into Tokyo, and between Narita and Haneda Airports, go to this site:

http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/access/haneda/index.html

British Airways has daily flights  between London-Heathrow (LHR) and both Haneda and Narita airports.

Domestic flights to Nagasaki go from Haneda Airport, Tokyo’s other main Airport.  There are flights throughout the day.  At the time of writing:

JAL has 6 flights a day flown by its low cost subsidiary JEX.   This is their website:

http://www.jal.co.jp/en/dom/

ANA  has 8 flights a day, 4 of which are operated by its partner airline, Solaseed.     This is their website:

http://www.ana.co.jp/asw/index.jsp?type=de

The cheapest option is with Skymark, a low cost carrier.  Many of their pilots are Westerners.   http://www.skymark.co.jp/en/

Nagasaki Airport Website has information on how to get to and from the airport: including to Huis Ten Bosch , Nagasaki and Sasebo:

http://www.nabic.co.jp/english/access/index_kotsu.html

Capybaras Resting on Capuchin island

Capybaras Resting on Capuchin island

 

The best place to stay is Huis Ten Bosch,  (Huis is pronounced “Haus” in Japan).  There are a number of luxury (4 and 5 star) hotels here including the Lorelai (from which the Bio Park bus goes) which often has the best rates, the Nikko Hotel, and the Okura Hotel.   Holders of a Bio Park pass receive a 20% discount at The Lorelai.   The hotels run a free shuttle bus service to the central bus station, which is by the Okura Hotel.

Hotel Lorelai:  http://www.lorelei.co.jp/index.html

The Okura Hotel is a re-creation of the historic Amsterdam Central Railway Station.  You can’t miss it!  http://www.okura.com/hotels/huistenbosch/index.html

I very highly recommend the Lorelei Hotel. I injured my foot badly and we had to extend our stay by 3 months while it healed. The hotel was incredibly helpful spending over an hour trying to find us an English-speaking doctor (in fact it turns out many of the doctors speak English) and later contacting the Immigration Office in Nagasaki as we had to extend our visa. Everyone working at the Lorelei Hotel was exceptionally helpful and one staff member gave us a huge bag of tangerines, which are in season in Kyushu at this time of year.

If you get a Bio Park Annual Pass you will get a 20% discount on room rates at The Lorelai Hotel.

If you are looking for budget accommodation there are hostels, including one run by the Catholic Church, in Nagasaki.   There is a public bus, bus number 20, which runs between the central bus station in Nagasaki and The Bio Park.  The fare in 2014 was 780 yen one way.  Journey time is approximately one and a half hours.

The Bio Park runs a free bus service from 2 points in Huis Ten Bosch to the Bio Park.    These are:  1) From outside the Lorelai Hotel and 2) from the Bus Station outside the Okura Hotel.   The journey from Huis Ten Bosch to The Bio Park takes about 45 minutes through sometimes stunning countryside and seascapes.  The bus schedule is available from their website:   BioPark access – http://www.biopark.co.jp/en/access/.

The easiest way to get to Huis Ten Bosch from Nagasaki Airport is by bus.  Buses run at frequent intervals.  The Information Desk at Nagasaki Airport will give you all the information you need, including bus timetables, fares etc.

Information about the Japanese Railways (JR) Pass and the Timetable can be found at this website.  It is hosted by a Japanese gentleman who is only too happy to answer in English your questions about the rail system:   http://jprail.com/travel-informations/fare-calculation.html

Japanese Railways  have an excellent timetable at this site:  http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

The nearest railway station to Nagasaki BioPark is Huis Ten Bosch.

Capybaras sleeping waiting for breakfast. 長崎バイオパークで眠るカピバラ。ミドル、リアビューでどんぐり

Capybaras sleeping waiting for breakfast. 長崎バイオパークで眠るカピバラ。ミドル、リアビューでどんぐり

BUS

There is a bus from Nagasaki Airport to Huis Ten Bosch Bus Station which is in front of the Okura hotel.  From here there are free shuttle buses to other hotels in Huis Ten Bosch

There is also a free shuttle bus from Huis Ten Bosch Bus Station to the Bio Park (see above and below)

If you are planning to travel round Kyushu, there is more information about Long Distance Bus Routes in Kyushu at this site:   http://www.rakubus.jp/english/

Tips
* When you get on the bus, greet the driver by saying “Onegai shimasu.”   Then, thank the driver by saying “Arigatou gozaimashita” when getting off the bus.
In the Flower Dome

In the Flower Dome

 

ACCOMMODATION

The best place to stay is Huis Ten Bosch,  (Huis is pronounced “Haus” in Japan).  There are a number of luxury (4 and 5 star) hotels here including the Lorelai (from which the Bio Park bus goes) which often has the best rates, the Nikko Hotel, and the Okura Hotel.   Holders of a Bio Park pass receive a 20% discount at The Lorelai.   The hotels run a free shuttle bus service to the central bus station, which is by the Okura Hotel.

Hotel Lorelai:  http://www.lorelei.co.jp/index.html

The Okura Hotel is a re-creation of the historic Amsterdam Central Railway Station.  You can’t miss it!  http://www.okura.com/hotels/huistenbosch/index.html

I very highly recommend the Lorelei Hotel. I injured my foot badly and we had to extend our stay by 3 months while it healed. The hotel was incredibly helpful spending over an hour trying to find us an English-speaking doctor (in fact it turns out many of the doctors speak English) and later contacting the Immigration Office in Nagasaki as we had to extend our visa. Everyone working at the Lorelei Hotel was exceptionally helpful and one staff member gave us a huge bag of tangerines, which are in season in Kyushu at this time of year.

If you get a Bio Park Annual Pass you will get a 20% discount on room rates at The Lorelai Hotel.

If you are looking for budget accommodation there are hostels, including one run by the Catholic Church, in Nagasaki.   There is a public bus, bus number 20, which runs between the central bus station in Nagasaki and The Bio Park.  The fare in 2014 was 780 yen one way.  Journey time is approximately one and a half hours.

Where to Eat in Huis Ten Bosch:

Lorelei Hotel Restaurant. I would highly recommend the restaurant at the Lorelei Hotel which serves both Japanese and Western food. The hotel restaurant has an excellent buffet with an extensive choice of dishes, both Japanese and Western. It is excellent value.

Huis Ten Bosch is the setting for a theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture which features many buildings built in the traditional architectural style of the Netherlands.  There are hotels, museums, shops and restaurants, canals and windmills.  Huis Ten Bosch itself may not be of great interest to Westerners, other than for its convenient location with accommodation and transport connections to The Nagasaki Bio Park.  It is named after Huis Ten Bosch one of the three official residences of the Dutch Royal Family located in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huis_Ten_Bosch_(theme_park)

African Crowned Crane

Spectacular Grey Crowned Crane At Nagasaki Bio Park ( It is the national symbol of Uganda)

Here is an entertaining video of the Tapirs cavorting in their pond during a thunderstorm:       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDOeN-mxYDY

The Hashimoto Hotel, is only a 10 mins drive from the Bio Park, near the coast in a beautiful area.  However, I have not found an English language website to book this.      Tel: +81-959-28-0011      Location on Google maps:     https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=33.00143,129.730157&z=13

There is also a Minshuku (like a B&B but with dinner as well.   Yoshino (guesthouse)   Tel:  +81-959-27-1200   Location on Google maps:  https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=32.994989,129.754345&z=13

A cheaper option is to stay in Sasebo (which has an American Military Base) at the Toyoko Inn right by the train station.  However this increases your daily travelling time by at least one and a half hours, and is only worth considering if you are planning to visit the Bio Park for many, many days!    (We visited every day for a month, I found observing the capybaras social interactions fascinating, and of course I loved petting them).  For most people Huis Ten Bosch or Nagasaki are the best places to stay .   If you do stay in Sasebo you can buy a monthly rail pass, we organised this at the ticket office at Sasebo Station, where English is s spoken.

If you are looking for budget accommodation there are hostels, including one run by the Catholic Church, in Nagasaki.   There is a public bus which runs between the central bus station in Nagasaki and The Bio Park.

flamingos

Flamingos

 

We spent our first 3 nights at The Chisun Inn near Nagasaki airport, while we got onto local time, as it is much cheaper than Huis Ten Bosch.  The hotel is actually in Omura and we had lovely views over beautiful Omura Bay.   Rooms can be small in non-luxury hotels.  There is a large supermarket just across the road.  (You can sometimes get reduced sushi at about 6 pm!)  There is no public transport to the Chisun Inn, but it is a short 10 minute taxi ride, costing 1300 Yen.   3 men helped organise our taxi and lift our 4 heavy bags.   The Japanese tend to travel very light, so we felt quite conspicuous with our excessive baggage.   The Chisun Inn is part of the Solare Hotels Group.

http://www.solarehotels.com/english/

Accommodation in Japan can be expensive.  If you are travelling around Japan the 2* Toyoko Inn chain, is good value.   The hotels are usually very close to train stations, though no less attractive for that.  Rooms are small by western standards.  Some of the hotels have very thin walls.  We always travel with a Marpac ‘white noise’ machine, so for us noise was not such a problem. There is a Toyoko Inn near Haneda (2 actually side by side) which is probably the best value place to stay near the airport.  The staff at the hotels we stayed in spoke some English.  In Sasebo (at the Toyoko Inn) we had tasty, free Japanese breakfasts and free wifi.   http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/

A Wallaby at Nagasaki Bio Park. I was surprised how soft their fur is. You can mingle in their enclosure and pet them

A Wallaby at Nagasaki Bio Park. I was surprised how soft their fur is. You can mingle in their enclosure and pet them

Nagasaki Bio Park

Information on how to get to the Bio Park from a number of locations including Nagasaki and Fukuoka, by bus, train or car can be found at the Bio Park website:

BioPark access:    http://www.biopark.co.jp/en/access/

This site includes information and the timetable for the free Bio Park Shuttle Bus from/to Huis Ten Bosch.

The Bio Park runs a free bus service from 2 points in Huis Ten Bosch to the Bio Park.    These are:  1) From outside the Lorelai Hotel and 2) from the Bus Station outside the Okura Hotel.   The journey from Huis Ten Bosch to The Bio Park takes about 45 minutes through sometimes stunning countryside and seascapes.

Reservations should be made using the email address listed, or by telephone.  When we visited in August the bus was rarely full.  I had the impression people only booked up a few days in advance if that.  You might well be able to make a last minute reservation except at holiday times.  Weekends are busiest, with Sunday being the busiest day.   Weekdays are much nicer;  you might well get the capybaras all to yourself!

This is the countryside at the entrance to Nagasaki Bio Park with this beautiful Japanese house. I wonder who lives there, just a few minutes walk from the Capybaras? The photo doesn't do justice to how pretty and rural the area is.

This is the countryside at the entrance to Nagasaki Bio Park with this beautiful Japanese house. I wonder who lives there, just a few minutes walk from the Capybaras? The photo doesn’t do justice to how pretty and rural the area is.

Bio Park Entrance Fee:    Adult:  1,600 Yen      Child: 13 – 17 years old  1000 Yen.       Child 3 – 12 years  700 yen

Bio Park Pass 4000 Yen, valid for one year

If you would like More Information about Visiting The Nagasaki Bio Park, go to my blog:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/visiting-nagasaki-bio-park-was-one-of-the-best-experiences-of-my-life-if-you-love-capybaras-it-is-an-absolute-must-visit-before-you-die/

Here is a blog I have written about the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park. Like humans they are all individuals and have different personalities. And of course like humans you can recognise them by their faces – they all look different. Visiting them is so much more interesting when you know who they are

すべての動物は、個々のです。ちょうど人間のように。喜びははるかに大きいです。カピバラの名前を知っています。カピバラのキャラクターと個性を知ってい ます。あなたははるかにカピバラをお楽しみいただけます。あなたは彼の名前を知らない場合はカピバラを侮辱です。彼の性格。カピバラを認識してください。 彼らはこれを値しま:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-capybaras-at-nagasaki-bio-park-%E9%95%B7%E5%B4%8E%E3%83%90%E3%82%A4%E3%82%AA%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC%E3%82%AF%E3%81%AE%E3%82%AB%E3%83%94%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9/

Use of Credit Cards

Most ATM’s do not accept foreign credit cards.  Nagasaki Airport has one ATM which does.  Haneda International Terminal (but not the Domestic Terminal) and Narita also have ATM’s which accept foreign credit cards.

Some taxis in major towns do take credit cards, but usually only domestic ones;  these tend to have a sign on the rear left passenger door.   Whenever we tried to use a foreign credit card for a taxi  it was not accepted. You can always try though. Smaller businesses, super markets, restaurants, etc. in rural areas accept cash only. Indeed most of Japan is still cash only outside of the large towns and cities. You will always need to be prepared to be able to settle in cash.   The exceptions are  major hotel chains, rail pass, the gift shop at the Bio Park, and similar.

Another tip is that most large Post Offices have an international ATM in them with English instructions.

WiFi

McDonalds have free wifi if you get desperate.  There is also free wifi at Haneda Airport, depending where you sit.

Video Links:

There is nothing as magical as 14 Capybara singing (eeping) in unison. This chorus goes on for up to half an hour or longer.  I’ve tried to capture some of this magic in this short video. One person who has seen the video said “This sounds make me happier!” :    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z6o5DC3–A

If you want to see what a blissfully happy Capybara looks like when he is being petted, these 2 give an idea of how enjoyable petting a capybara is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9EHV-AvQyc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSvVHmoUHDQ

A couple of videos showing just how playful, and amusing to watch ,Capybaras can be:   (In the first video most of the action happens after about 1 min. 8 secs)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id_pgMOib-Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szuhRSV6zMI

If you would like to see more Videos about Capybaras, go to Capybara World on Youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/user/rangdaaaa?feature=results_main

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Visiting Nagasaki Bio Park: The Best Place In The World To Be With Capybaras. 客員長崎バイオパーク:カピバラを表示するには、世界で最高の場所。

The Biopark has a beautiful location, set over wooded hills on the stunning Saikai peninsular. Anyone who loves nature and animals will enjoy visiting, quite apart from meeting the exceptional capybaras.

For information on how to get to Nagasaki Bio Park, including from Tokyo Narita Airport:: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/how-to-get-to-nagasaki-bio-park-to-see-the-adorable-capybaras-of-course-there-are-lots-of-other-animals-many-of-which-you-can-pet-and-botanical-gardens-its-very-easy/

Here is a blog I have written about the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park. Like humans they are all individuals and have different personalities. And of course like humans you can recognise them by their faces – they all look different. Visiting them is so much more interesting when you know who they are

すべての動物は、個々のです。ちょうど人間のように。喜びははるかに大きいです。カピバラの名前を知っています。カピバラのキャラクターと個性を知ってい ます。あなたははるかにカピバラをお楽しみいただけます。あなたは彼の名前を知らない場合はカピバラを侮辱です。彼の性格。カピバラを認識してください。 彼らはこれを値しま

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-capybaras-at-nagasaki-bio-park-%E9%95%B7%E5%B4%8E%E3%83%90%E3%82%A4%E3%82%AA%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC%E3%82%AF%E3%81%AE%E3%82%AB%E3%83%94%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9/

Butter and Cookie, Maple's babies, 6 weeks old. They always sleep together, resting their heads on each other. バターやクッキー。メープルの赤ちゃん。 6週齢。常に一緒に寝ます

Butter and Cookie, Maple’s babies, 6 weeks old. They always sleep together, resting their heads on each other. バターやクッキー。メープルの赤ちゃん。 6週齢。常に一緒に寝ます

Little baby Io. The youngest capybara, just 5 months old

 

Having a capybara come over to you and sit affectionately in your lap is the most wonderful experience. Many of the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park will sit on the laps of visitors these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdNE6omkqvM

This is one of my favourite baby capybara videos: Doughnut being nibbled by Macaroni and Choco. Macaroni is the most enthusiastic nibbler.

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Baby Aoba loves to sleep on top of her mother Momiji. Momiji is a fantastic mother. おめでとう!リトル青葉はミイラもみじの上で寝大好き。もみじは素晴らしい母親であります

Baby Aoba loves to sleep on top of her mother Momiji. Momiji is a fantastic mother. おめでとう!リトル青葉はミイラもみじの上で寝大好き。もみじは素晴らしい母親であります

One of the joys of the visit was hand feeding the capybaras.   They are so gentle as they take a pellet from you with their soft lips, and then tenderly rub their lips over your hand almost like a kiss, making their happy, chuckling call of gratitude and pleasure.

You can see just how affectionate the capybaras are at Nagasaki Bio Park in this video:

Syu is the most affectionate capybara I’ve ever met. シュー非常に愛情のカピバラ

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25% WN Ryoko on Marc's lap 21 December 2015 085

Many of the capybaras will come and sit in your lap. Sometimes you may have to entice them by offering food, however in this photo Ryoko came and sat on my husband’s lap of her own volition. She looked so happy as she snuggled up to him

Watching the Capybaras frolicking in their enormous pond was enchanting.   They are just so playful;  Great Grandmother Donguri, leader of the Bio Park herd loves to ride piggyback on her daughters.  The youngest Capybaras love riding piggy back on the older ones.  Several Capybaras might play ‘tug of war’ with a piece of bamboo.  They have mock fights and chases, or sometimes just nuzzle each other.   Nuzzling under the chin, a very sensitive spot,  brings on that amazing blissful state, where the hair rises (pilo-erection) and they go into a state of ecstasy.   Yasushi, the Boss Capybara (ie the breeding male) loves being nuzzled under his chin;   he is very amorous and sensuous.   This nuzzling can sometimes be accompanied by nips and the very occasional squeal.

Yasushi Being Nuzzled by Donguri. He Looks so Happy

Yasushi is adored by all the female Capybaras who follow him around and nuzzle him frequently under the chin in the pond.   He rolls over in ecstasy, sinking under the water and looks completely towsled and dazed when he surfaces.  Watching the Capybaras is a priceless experience, not to be missed for the world.   You can watch Yasushi being nuzzled in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibuodCxI_mk

 

Yasushi, King of Capybaras, All the Females Adore Him. Me Too. He Has So Much Charisma

Yasushi is the only adult male;  he is the breeding male, known as the Boss in Japan.  He will spend about 3 years as the breeding male before a new male replaces him.   So the frolic is often amorous if Yasushi is involved.    He is also a wonderful father, always willing to take time off from his love making to play with his son, baby Io,  as in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaaaVHh-nh8 Little Io knows all the right strings to pull when it comes to playing with his Dad….like sucking father Yasushi’s ears, something Yasushi loves and which sends him into that amazing blissful state which Yasushi does so well with his amazingly long hair (see Photo above).

Yasushi. He was the most wonderful Boss Capy, as the breeding male is called; very charismatic, caring and sensuous. He had the most beautiful long hair and he loved to be petted. 康。優れた上司カピバラ。美しい長い髪。素晴らしい人格。撫でするのが好きでした

Yasushi. He was the most wonderful Boss Capy, as the breeding male is called; very charismatic, caring and sensuous. He had the most beautiful long hair and he loved to be petted. 康。優れた上司カピバラ。美しい長い髪。素晴らしい人格。撫でするのが好きでした

I hadn’t realised just how playful, and captivating, to watch Capybaras are when playing in groups in a large body of water.

Donguri and her little son Io often play together in the pond. Here he is nuzzling his mother under the chin, which she adores

Donguri and her little son Io often play together in the pond. Here he is nuzzling his mother under the chin, which she adores

And then there is the pampering.  Walking in to their enclosure  and seeing 14 capybaras sitting there, sweet and docile, just waiting to be petted is an experience I wouldn’t miss for the world.  Yasushi with his long hair, all pouffy, his mouth open in ecstasy, showing his beautiful teeth….or little baby Io, so soft and small, responding to your rubs and scratches….looking so, so happy.   Sweet, gentle Donguri, who mostly didn’t want any heavy duty scratching or pampering…she seemed happy to just sit beside me while I gently stroked her, only very occasionally rolling over to be pampered and going  pouffy.  Capybaras often like a vigorous scratch;  they have thick skin.   This is more stimulating, but often the Capybaras prefer more gentle pampering. They love being rubbed on their bottoms, as the sign on the Information Board says.  Their bottom is also furthest away from their teeth!

Donguri, Sweet, Patient Gentle Donguri. My Favorite; the Gentlest Capybara in the Bio Park. Mother or Grandmother of 9 of the 14 Capys there.

 

Donguri, number one in the Bio Park hierarchy. She is a wonderful leader, very wise, very compassionate. She watches over the herd and gives support to any capybara who is suffering or who is in a separate enclosure and missing the herd

Donguri, number one in the Bio Park hierarchy. She is a wonderful leader, very wise, very compassionate. She watches over the herd and gives support to any capybara who is suffering or who is in a separate enclosure and missing the herd

Beautiful, affectionate Syu … deemed one of the most intelligent of the capys, one of the few capybaras who would come when called (though not by name as they do not know their names).

Maple, her mother Keide and Aki (no 1 in the hierarchy and Donguri’s younger sister, though quite different in personality) love to escape in search of long, green grass.  They will split up, waiting by the entry and exit gates, making it impossible for anyone to enter or leave without at least one capybara getting out.

Sweet, Affectionate Yuzu.

Poor old Kobuko (the late Kobuko) had a gate stupidly slammed on her,  when she was half way through, to fruitlessly try to prevent from her getting out.

Kobuko, Wonderful Old Kobuko, 13 years old

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Nina, 7 months old at the time of this photo, a young male who loves being fed and pampered. He will move to another ‘zoo’ when he is about one year old. Male capybaras tend to fight….

There is nothing as magical as 15 Capybara singing in unison.   This chorus goes on for up to half an hour or longer.   Some afternoons we were treated to the chorus on at least 2 or 3 occasions over the course of the afternoon, other afternoons no  chorus at all.   First there is watermelon time, followed by napping and pampering.   One or two Capys make their escape to the freedom of the pond, while the others remain in the pampering area.   Then the magical, singing chorus starts as the Capybaras begin to think about moving en masse into the water.  After about 10 minutes the exodus begins.  The 4 youngest tend to be reluctant to leave since they get the most pampering and feeding, and they know that if they stay behind every visitor who comes into their enclosure will buy at least one container of ‘Capybara’ pellets to feed them.

Momiji, Sharpening her Teeth, at the Entrance to the Capybara Hideaway. For Part of Each Day the Capybaras Disappear Completely under the Walkway, on the Far Side of this Netting. You can often Hear their Magical Sounds, though.

Reluctantly the young ones join the others in their hiding place under the walkway.   Their ‘singing’ continues to fill the air, the most captivating sound you can imagine.    This chorus is also triggered by thoughts of escape.  On several days some of the capybaras, occasionally as many as 8 or 10, have gathered beside the entrance/exit gates waiting for an opportune moment to make their escape.  It is always the same 5 who make it to freedom.  These include Maple, her mother Keide and Aki.  On Thursday, 9th August,  there would have been a very successful mass exodus if Marc hadn’t been there to keep pushing them back in, and direct people away from opening the gate right in front of a capy intent on escape.

I hope the capys don’t hold it against ME, that Marc prevented them from escaping.   Only Keide escaped this time.   Her goal was the grassy hillside just round the corner from the Capybara enclosure.   She looked a little concerned to be separated from the herd.   And most of the Capybaras followed her trail from within the enclosure, walking along the boundary, looking very worried that she had become separated from the flock.  Yasushi, in particular, looked very paternalistic and concerned, as if he felt responsible for his flock of Capybaras.

Sometimes Kaede goes to visit Ran, the future Boss Capybara.  He is in solitary confinement in a small pen with nowhere to swim, so her visits are a real boost for his spirits.  (Not that she can get into his enclosure;  they can only sniff each other, separated by a tall concrete wall.)

Aki Sets Offf on her Great Adventure, having First had her Fill of Lush Green Grass

Everything comes alive with the magical sound of singing Capybaras.    You can hear them calling in this video.  In real life it is a million times more magical….more than a million times even… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z6o5DC3–2A

 

What I find interesting is how little the proximity of large numbers of visitors has impacted on the group dynamic of this ‘herd’.   It’s almost as if the humans provide entertainment (pampering and feeding) the way a human might go to a Spa or restaurant.  As it is mainly a procession of strangers who visit the capybara enclosure,  the capybarass don’t bond with people the way a pet capybara does, so the social ties of the herd are not affected and are as strong as with a wild herd.   The Bio Park is only open 9-5 (5.30 in August) so the rest of the time they are free of humans.

In 2013 and 2014 the Boss Capy, ie the male capybara, was kept in a separate, small enclosure.  This is not ideal and creates a great deal of stress and frustration for both the female capybaras and the male, who want to be together as they would be in their natural habitat.

Capybaras Playing

If anyone wants any information on how to get there and where to stay:

Here is a link to my blog giving complete details on how to get to Nagasaki Bio Park from Tokyo, Sasebo or Nagasaki. There is information on accommodation as well: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/how-to-get-to-nagasaki-bio-park-to-see-the-adorable-capybaras-of-course-there-are-lots-of-other-animals-many-of-which-you-can-pet-and-botanical-gardens-its-very-easy/

The Bio Park is in Saikai National Park, an incredibly beautiful area in north western Kyushu.  Rural and undeveloped, with stunning seascapes, mountains and over 200 small islands.  There are golf courses as well, but I can’t imagine you would want them. More Videos of these Irristable Animals at:   http://www.youtube.com/user/rangdaaaa/videos?view=0

Capybaras Resting on Capuchin island

Capybaras Resting on Capuchin island

Here’s a film NHK, the National Broadcaster in Japan, made of our visit to Nagasaki Bio Park;  the Capybaras are natural thespians:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdQlwmoNJzs 

Because of ‘zoos’ like Nagasaki Bio Park, where visitors can mingle with and pet the Capybaras, there are many more people who adore Capybaras in Japan, than in any other country.      

Linda Lombardi, one of the leading writers about animals in the Western world, has written this very informative and well researched piece about the history of Capybaras in Japan.

リンダロンバルディ(動物に関する有名な作家)は、日本のカピバラのこの歴史を書き込みます。非常に興味深い。賛美長崎バイオパーク

http://www.tofugu.com/2014/01/06/japan-capybaras-and-me-a-love-story/

  Of course there are many other animals at Nagasaki Bio Park.

Red and Green Macaws from South America

The Tapirs got very excited during a thunder storm, frolicing and canoodling in their pond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDOeN-mxYDY

Tapir

If you walk past the spectacularly colored flamingoes at about 4.30, when they are waiting to be fed, their evocative calls recreate the sounds of the tropics, transporting you to some far off land.

Spectacularly Colored Flamingoes

There is also the Botanical Flower Dome where you can see a profusion of brilliantly colored tropical flowers

Many Different Beautiful Types of Orchids are in in the Flower Dome

Many Different Beautiful Types of Orchids are in in the Flower Dome

In the Flower Dome

In the Flower Dome

Here is a link to the Bio Park website: http://www.biopark.co.jp/en/guidemap/

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Here is a blog in French about Nagasaki Bio Park with lots of excellent photos including lots of photos of the capybaras:
http://www.anaisetpedro.com/divers/japon-2015-le-bio-park-de-sasebo-a-nagasaki/comment-page-1/#comment-356704

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