Ling Ling, the only giant panda owned by Japan, died of old age Wednesday at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, where he had been one of the most popular attractions, officials said.
Visitors to the zoo pressed their hands together in prayer on learning the news and placed flowers on a makeshift altar.
Officials said the zoo would open Ling Ling's enclosure to mourners after decorating it with flowers and bamboo.
"Ling Ling was a representative of our zoo," said zookeeper Motoyasu Ida.
"He died peacefully. I think he lived a full life."