Capybara Onsen Season

Everyone knows that capybaras come from South America. Did you know that the elite class of capybaras come from Japan? They live in zoos, and every winter solstice they are treated to traditional Japanese hot baths (onsens), like proper royalty. I hope to see them someday, but what I really would like is to come back in my next life as a Japanese capybara.

Each year the Japanese zoos post photos and videos of their elaborate baths, as if to entice the capybaras to switch zoos.

Yuzus look pretty and the fragrance is divine but they are full of big seeds. They can’t be imported to the US.

Yuzu baths are traditional, but some zoos feature baths with apples, oranges, strawberries, and even pumpkins or rose petals. The season ends in February, so capybaras need to make their selection right away.

This year, Nasu Animal Kingdom made a big splash and there were several articles* about their offering. It was tempting.

Nagasaki BioPark was one of the first, and I always check out their display. This year they had a livestream- two hours!- and it’s now a YouTube video! Guess who has a new screensaver! I love to call it up before I leave my computer so I am greeted by content capybaras when I return. I have watched this throughout the day and I’m always surprised by something I missed the first ten times through.

If you don’t have two hours, there’s a one minute video at this link. Do me a favor though, read the article (English translation) and tell me what they mean by “disease-free suffocation.” Japanese translations are creative, but this one has me completely baffled.

Dobby’s yuzu onsen. This picture is hanging on the wall of my “capybara room.”

*Here are a couple links to the Nasu Animal Kingdom articles


I plan to feature a couple of zoos featuring capybaras. If you have photos from a capybara zoo visit, let me know and I’ll work with you to create a blog post! It doesn’t even have to be recent. Use the Ask Dobby tab up there to contact me. If you have already sent information, hang tight, I’m getting to it! Thanks in advance!

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