Six Select Places Around Japan to See Cute Wild Animals Up Close
Japan has the image of being a modern country, but did you know that there are also many places you can see wild animals at? Here are six popular spots around the country! Don't miss these opportunities to be healed by the sight of adorable animals.
1. Zao Fox Village (Foxes / Miyagi)
At the Zao Fox Village, there are more than 100 foxes running free in a maintained forest. There is a total of six types of foxes: Ezo red fox, silver fox, blue fox, platinum fox, shadow fox, and cross fox. Stroll around the grounds and you'll see foxes doing things you never knew they did - like following you around and pulling on your clothes.
At the Village, you can also interact with other animals such as rabbits and ponies! And at the gift shop, there are many fox-related goods on sale.
Entrance fee: Junior high school age and up 1,000 JPY (incl. tax), elementary school age and below free
2. Jigokudani Yaen-koen (Monkeys / Nagano)
Jigokudani Yaen-koen in northern Nagano is a special place where you can observe the rarely seen Japanese monkeys who live in the harsh wilderness of deep forests in steep, mountainous areas. The park is designed around the natural environment, so there are no fences between the people and monkeys, and the wild Japanese monkeys can freely move in and out of the grounds.
The monkeys here are also known for bathing in the onsen hot springs in the area to survive the harsh winters. They are famous worldwide, with a picture of them bathing making the cover of LIFE magazine in the US in 1970.
Entrance fee: Adult (18 and up) 800 JPY (incl. tax), child (elementary school - high school) 400 JPY (incl. tax)
3. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama in Kyoto is home to approximately 120 Japanese monkeys in the nature-rich park, and there is an area at the top of the mountain where you can feed the monkeys. There is also an observatory with a panoramic view of Kyoto, from which you can enjoy a fabulous view of Arashiyama with the cherry blossoms in the spring and foliage in the fall. You will also encounter other animals in the park, including about 100 different types of wild birds and deer, so be sure to visit!
Entrance fee: Adult (high school and up) 550 JPY (incl. tax), child (4 - junior high school) 250 JPY (incl. tax)
4. Nara Park (Deer / Nara)
This is a massive city park spanning 4 km east-west and 2 km north-south in the city of Nara. There are many famous Nara tourist destinations on the grounds, such as the renowned Todai-ji temple, the World Heritage site, Kasuga-taisha, and the virgin forests of Mt. Kasuga Oku.
The approximately 1,200 deer that live in the park are not cared for by the park, but are wild animals designated as natural treasures by the government. Deer have been revered as messengers of the gods since the Nara Period (710 - 794), and is considered to be a symbol of Nara. Deer food is also sold in the park so you can experience feeding them.
Entrance fee: Free
5. Okunoshima (Rabbits / Hiroshima)
Okunoshima is a small island in the Seto Inland Sea that is about 4km in circumference. It is designated as a national park, and is known as the habitat for more than 700 wild rabbits. There is a variety of different types and colors of rabbits, including ones with long hair, and ones with droopy ears. The site of them hopping around and nibbling on their food is adorable and sure to relax you.
The island also has overnight accommodations, onsen hot springs, and campsites and is popular as a leisure spot where you can enjoy cycling and sunbathing.
6. Aoshima (Cats / Ehime)
Aoshima is the cat paradise in Ozu, Ehime. It is a tiny island with a circumference of 4.2 km, where there are approximately 16 human residents and a staggering 100+ cats! You can encounter the cats all around the island.
To get to the island, you'll need to take the ferry that runs twice a day. The ferry is boarded at Nagahama Harbor, about 1 minute by foot from JR Iyo-Nagashima Station, but residents are given preferential access. Aoshima is a small island that has not developed as a tourist destination, so there are no overnight accommodations, shops or vending machines.
Please visit these spots to meet Japan's adorable animals!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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