Japan is cute animal sanctuary central and what could possibly be cuter than a fox village? In the picturesque mountains of Miyagi prefecture you can watch, feed and take adorable pictures with six different breeds of Japanese foxes.
Once you arrive, stock up on cheap bags of fox food at the entrance and get your camera ready to capture some foxy hijinks.
You can pick up bags of fox food for around 100 yen at the entrance to the village.
The main part of the village works as a kind of open-air fox preserve where foxes roam freely outside. There are a few houses and play areas for the foxes but you can pretty much get away with pretending you’re the Lord of the Foxes in your own live-action fairy tale.
The foxes are wild so avoid trying to get too close to them without permission from the friendly staff. If you do desperately want to play or stroke one of the many fluffy inhabitants, they can set you up with a more docile member of the crew.
A special section is set aside for those who want to cuddle a sleepy fox (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?)
This is obviously very popular, so make sure you give yourself enough time to line up before your coach or taxi leaves. If you don’t fancy getting comfy with the real thing, you can always purchase a range of fox plushies and souvenirs from the on-site shop.
Sadly, you can’t take a real one home.
Although accessible all year round, visiting in winter is highly recommended for the ethereal quality it adds to the village. Bring hiking boots (whatever the season) to make it easier to explore in the snow and protect you from the inevitable piles of fox poo.
Foxes get a pretty bad rep for being tricksters in many cultures but in Japan they’re also believed to be magical beings and messengers of Inari Okami, the Shinto deity of fertility, prosperity and rice. After an hour or two hanging out with these little guys you might just believe they’ve got a little magic in them too.
Things To Know
Entry costs 1000 yen, food bags are 100 yen, and cuddles with a fox are 400 yen.
How To Get There
From Tokyo, take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train) all the way to Shiroishi-Zao station (approx. 1 hour 50 minutes). You can also catch the bullet train in the same direction at Sendai, or take the local JR train direct to Shiroishi station (approx. 45 minutes). From both stations, you will have to take either a taxi or shuttle bus to reach the Fox Village.
A direct shuttle bus run by the fox village leaves Shiroishi Zao station at 10:00am and Shiroishi Station at 10:10am, the return trip is 12:30pm. You can sign up for the liner here (http://zao-fox-village.com/access) but the bus won’t leave with less than 5 people and the maximum boarding is 8 people.
Taxis make the rounds between Shiroishi Zao station and the Fox Village (Zao Kitsune Mura, in Japanese). It costs around 4200 yen each way and takes approximately 30 minutes. If there are no taxis outside the station when you arrive, the tourist information center there can call one for you.
Where To Stay
Metropolitan Hotel Yamagata – Metropolitan Hotel Yamagata provides comfortable 3-star accommodation in Yamagata.The hotel provides cosy rooms, designed to accommodate the requirements of any traveller.Guests can enjoy a beverage at the hotel’s bar and try Japanese cuisine in the restaurant.Metropolitan Hotel Yamagata is under a 30-minute drive from Yamagata Airport. It is minutes on foot from Yamagata Station, which allows easy access in and around Yamagata.
Adredss: 1-1-1 Kasumicho Yamagata, Japan Fees: From ¥3850 Phone: 023-628-1111 Hotel: Booking here!!
Richmond Hotel Yamagata Ekimae – Richmond Hotel Yamagata Ekimae provides 3-star accommodation in Yamagata. It also offers a coffee bar, an express check-in and check-out feature and a beauty centre.The hotel has 220 rooms and has been recently refurbished. Helpful and professional staff are available 24-hours a day.The rooms are air conditioned and offer a refrigerator, movies-on-demand and a kitchenette. Hot drinks can be made with the provided tea and coffee supplies.The hotel is close to Yamagata Station, making it easy for guests to travel around Yamagata and its surrounding areas. It is also a short car ride from the Yamagata Prefectural Museum.
Adredss: 1 Chome-3-11 Futabacho, Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan Fees: From ¥3250 Phone: 023-647-6277 Hotel: Booking here!!
Richmond Hotel Fukushimaekimae – Situated a short walk from Soneda Station, Richmond Hotel Fukushimaekimae is a convenient base while in Fukushima. It also features a safe, internet and massage services.Richmond Hotel Fukushima Ekimae has air conditioned rooms with a flat-screen TV and movies-on-demand. All offer a bathtub, a refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities. After settling in to their room, guests can discover the area with use of Fukushima Station, which is a short walk from the hotel.In-house dining options include a restaurant, which is a convenient place to enjoy a meal.
Adredss: 1-15 Mikawa Minamimachi, Fukushima, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan Fees: From ¥4000 Phone: 024-526-1255 Hotel: Booking here!!