If you have ever heard of Alex Kerr and have read his book Dogs & Demonsyou would think much less of Japan as a country. Some of the things in that book refer to many pork-barrel politic government projects that include such monstrosities as huge concrete damns in the middle of nowhere. From personal experience, I have seen a couple of these concrete machinations when I did some hiking just outside of the Tokyo area. Very mind boggling indeed.
However, not all government projects are pork-barrel political showcases (I hope). One interesting project located in Yokohama is called Zoorasia. Zoorasia is a large zoo with a multitude of animals from around the planet. The Zoo itself is divided into 7 areas at present that match certain geographic areas of the world. In each area are a set of representative animals from that region. For example there is an Oceanian Grassland area and one of the prominent animals there are kangaroos.
The zoo is run by the Yokohama Greenery Foundation which was established as far back in the mid 70s. Back then it originally called itself the (sorry if I mistranslate here…) The Yokohama City Park Foundation (Nin-idantai Yokohama-shi Kouen Kyoukai – 任意団体横浜市公園協会) however renamed itself to the Yokohama Greenery Foundation in 1984.
The zoo itself is a little inconvenient to reach by public transportation (aka it takes awhile by bus and train). But from what I have seen the park is extremely nice with a very reasonable entrance fee (600Y). One thing I do wonder is whether Zoorasia can support itself in the long run since it is a great resource for families around the area. It would be a shame if maintaining such a nice zoo is actually not sustainable with the budget that they have. But it does seem that Zoorasia’s parent organization has some backing by the Yokohama government which I hope is a good thing. (At least I can feel some of the tax I pay is going to something interesting)