This post is also available in: Indonesia
Written by: Wasistha Weesenha Putri
If you ever read Japanese manga or watch anime, at some point you must have realized that there are many anime characters that portray fox spirits. Japanese people believe that foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of foxes employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, and lovers. Thus, foxes are kind of inseparable from the Japanese people’s life.
Aside from the above folktales, Japan is actually home to some species of foxes including Japanese red foxes, arctic foxes, etc. They are widespread throughout Japan. They live in mountainous areas and even though they look cute with slanted eyes, triangle-shaped ears, and thick fur, they are wild animals that are not really familiar with human existence around them. So, normally we cannot get close to them even if we meet them in the wild by chance.
The good news for furry animal lovers is, there is a tourist attraction where you can see foxes eating and playing from up close in Miyagi prefecture. The place is named Zao Fox Village, also known as kitsune mura (literally means “fox village” in Japanese).
Zao Fox Village is located in Shiroishi city, Miyagi prefecture. It has more than 100 foxes with various species, but as you can see in the above picture, it’s dominated by the Japanese red fox. The foxes here are naturally more familiar to humans compared to the ones in the wild since they have been taken care of by the village’s staff. However, they still are wild animals.
There are some rules the guests should follow to safely enjoy the view of the adorable foxes:
- Do not pet or feed the foxes by hand outside the designated feeding porch.
- Do not squat. The foxes may jump on you.
- Pay attention not to drop things like smartphones. The foxes may take and bury it in the ground.
Because the village is located in a mountainous area, it is a little bit tricky to get there. The most recommended way is going by car. However, if you don’t drive in Japan, you can choose one of the followings:
Take the Yamabiko Shinkansen to JR Shiroishi Zao station. There are buses running from JR Shiroishi Zao station that stop at kitsune mura, but make sure you check the schedule first since they only run twice a day. In case you miss the bus, you can take a taxi directly to the village but it will cost you around 5,000 JPY for one way.
There are two options available if you plan to go from Sendai.
- Take the JR Tohoku Main Line (Tohoku Honsen) from Sendai station to Shiroishi station. From Shiroishi station, there is a city bus named Kyassurukun that has a bus stop under the parking lot of the village. This bus also only runs twice a day, every Tuesday and Friday except for public holidays.
- Same as if you go from Tokyo; take the Yamabiko Shinkansen to JR Shiroishi Zao station, and then take the bus.
Recommended Time to Visit
Although the village is open throughout the year, it is recommended to go in winter (late December until early March) because the village will turn all white. With the trees whose leaves have fallen and the ground covered in thick snow, the scenery somehow has similar vibes to fairy tales movies like Narnia. The view of the foxes running around on snowy land is also kind of magical. The white snowflakes scattered on their reddish fur makes a beautiful contrast that will please your eyes.
About Zao Fox Village
- Kawarago 11-3 Fukuokayatsumiya, Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture 〒989-0733
- Admission fee
- 1,000 yen
- http://zao-fox-village.com/ (Japanese only)