We all love dinosaurs, and dinosaur-mania is in overdrive again thanks to the release of Jurassic World Dominion (July 29, 2022, in Japan), the final chapter in the saga that began with Jurassic Park. At least until the next reboot.
But did you know Japan is also big on dino-DNA? There are even a couple named after Fukui Prefecture—fukuiraptor and fukuisaurus. So what better way to celebrate the next film than by having a Jurassic jaunt through the country?
Drop down on the floor and everybody do the dinosaur. These are the best places to see dinos in Japan.
1. Dino Adventure Nagoya (Nagoya)
For very young dinosaur fans, there are plenty of places to have some dinosaur adventures in Aichi. Near Oudaka station, there is a popular spot called Kyouryu Hiroba where children can see the twin Tyrannosauruses Dai-chan and Kou-chan. If you can handle moving closer, you’ll see that both welcome little ones as both dinosaurs have built-in slides in their tails.
Older kids will probably want to head to Dino Adventure Nagoya. Visitors walk a course of about a kilometer where they can see 19 different types of dinosaurs. The trip’s highlight is a gigantic Tyrannosaurus, which has been reconstructed in its real proportions. Dinosaur detectives can download a course map filled with hints about the lifestyles of the dinosaurs and fill in the names of the dinosaurs as they discover them
2. Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum (Fukui)
How about combining fun and education by heading to Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum? This museum has the skeletons of extinct dinosaurs and models showing what they used to look like. This area is composed of several sections, including “Biology of Dinosaurs,” “Dinosaurs of Japan and Asia,” and “Real-size Dinosaur Diorama,” which tell stories of the discoveries in the area through fossils, animatronics, and a computer-graphic motion picture.
In “Dinosaur Hall,” 44 dinosaur skeletons are mounted with full-scale specimens, including ten skeletons that contain a significant amount of original fossils, of which the highlight is the gigantic Camarasaurus. For older kids that would like to learn more about where the fossils come from, the dinosaur quarry is only a short bus ride away. The quarry is one of Japan’s most famous areas for searching for ancient beasts, and many unique dinosaurs were found here. After seeing the quarry itself, visitors can practice learning to recognize various fossils. You can even extract your own fossil.
Another popular Fukui location is Katsuyama Dinosaur Forest Park. The fun of Katsuyama Dinosaur Forest Park is exploring the different attractions in each of the zones. With zones ranging from “The Lost World” to the ominous-sounding “Weaker One is on the Menu” and “Valley of Attacks,” there is plenty of fun to be had hiding from the robotic dinosaurs. However, if this is too much for the smaller ones, the park also has the Gao Gao playground with dinosaur-themed train rides and paddle boats.
3. Hakusan Dinosaur Park Shiramine (Ishikawa)
For fossil fiends, Ishikawa is well-known for Kuwajima Fossil Bluff, where everything from fossilized turtles to the dinosaur Albalophosaurus has been extracted. Following this notoriety, Hakusan Dinosaur Park Shiramine was built, which boasts many fossils that were found in the nearby area.
The best of both worlds can be found at the Shiramine Fossil Research Center in the park, the leading research center in the area. Wannabe paleontologists can also take part themselves. There’s also a fossil-digging experience where you can freely crack open rocks from the Kuwajima Fossil Bluff and see if you can find any fossils.
4. Goshoura (Kumamoto)
— ダイロク (@daaaaigo746) March 30, 2019
Kumamoto in Japan is famously known for Kumamoto Castle and Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine. But scientists know it for its dinosaur discoveries. On Goshoura Island in Amakusa, Kumamoto, Goshoura, fossils were discovered in 2002. Since then, the entire region has become the UNESCO-supported Amakusa-Goshoura Geopark, boasting over 100 geology sites and attractions, such as the Ammonite House, which houses a 60 cm fossil of the giant ammonite Eupachydiscus.
At the island’s port, the Cretaceous Museum was established and features thousand of fossil displays, including the teeth of some of Japan’s largest carnivorous dinosaurs and large mammals. The museum
operates across the whole island and runs fossil collection trips.
5. Henn Na Hotel (Tokyo, Chiba, Osaka)
— 神谷明 (@kamiyaakira29) July 24, 2020
Finally, no list of dinosaur attractions in Japan would be complete without mentioning the dinosaur-themed rooms at Hen Na Hotel. Henn Na is a play on words of the Japanese word henna, which means bizarre or unusual, and this hotel definitely lives up to that. A pair of robotic dinosaurs do the check-in, and you can expect to walk to your room through some T. Rexes.
The theme even continues in the dining room, which is set in the sort of cave the Flintstones would have felt at home in, and the food is made into little dinosaur shapes. Henn Na indeed! Many visitors combine staying at the Shinsaibashi, Osaka hotel with a visit to nearby Universal Studios theme park, which offers plenty of dino-themed adventures in its dedicated Jurassic Park zone.
There is even Henn Na Notel nearby Handeda Airport that features a long-necked talking Apatosaurus greeting guests at the check-in counter.
These are our favorite places to take part in some of the exciting fossil-hunting activities found in Japan. Did we miss any? What dinosaur-related places have you seen? Let us know in the comments.