And Vogel Park did not disappoint. They have an astonishing variety of birds, from the humble Asiatic sparrow to the well-known-yet-beautiful peacock, and the dazzling golden pheasant, which I still swear is a phoenix. The park maintains two large, greenhouse bird enclosures, with rare birds on display and more common varieties roaming free along the footpaths. It is a non-stop parade of birds that aren’t afraid to approach human visitors. They dart around your feet, completely unconcerned, and in the water fowl enclosures, small, pink ibises can be fed pellets for the price of ¥100.
If you’ve never been swarmed by a flock of tiny, flamingo-like birds, put it on your bucket list now. The only downside is the inevitable feeling of being used, because when the pellets are gone the fantasy shatters: You are not their best friend or a bird whisperer, you’re just free food. Such is life. The same is true for the tropical bird enclosure, where toucans and turacos will sit on your arm as you feed them diced fruits from a cup. Again, they’ll usually go find a new best friend once the fruit is gone, but if you’re lucky, as I was, a turaco might think your thumb is food and spend a few more minutes trying to eat it. Worth it? Obviously.
In addition to the tropical bird and water fowl enclosures, the park also has owl and raptor shows, as well as a penguin walk, and while the name Vogel Park indicates its aviary attractions, it boasts equally impressive botanical gardens. If you happen to miss the owls at the entrance, it’s probably because you’ll be staring at the curtains of hanging flowers and vines, suspended from the ceiling. They fill the air with floral scents and vibrant color, and I can only imagine what a joy it would be to visit during winter. It takes about an hour to walk around the grounds, longer if you want to see all the shows at their various times, and Vogel Park has a few different restaurants for visitors who want to make an entire day of it. Considering the manageable cost, especially for foreigners, this is a definite must see when coming to Matsue. If time allows, I would encourage anyone planning a trip to Hiroshima or Miyajima to also visit Shimane. We’re a quiet little prefecture, but that just means you’ll be all the more surprised by what we have to offer.