Known as one of the cutest natural attractions in Japan, the Zao Fox Village is a must experience place for anyone who loves cute and cuddly animals. And these are the real ones too, not your regular stuffed fox.
While you may have heard of the very unique cat island or even the rabbit island in Japan, a fox village is something totally unexpected by the Japanese. Well, now that you know this magical place does in fact exists, read on to find out more about the Zao Fox Village.
What is This Fox Village All About?
The entrance to Zao Fox Village. Photo by I Am Aileen.
This unique village acts as a conservation and educational program meant for the locals and also foreigners. The Zao Fox Village sits in a special area away from the general townships and in the hills, which is not a commercial tourist attraction and is self-maintained, which was started back in 1990.
In total, there are over 150 foxes found here, that roam freely in their own confined space. But if you are hoping to expect one of those international wildlife conservations, sorry to say this is not one of them. The initiative is there, but how the Japanese do it is entirely different.
Fox food is available to be purchased at ¥100, where the staff will provide you with the safety guidelines of this place. The first rule is that you are not to feed the foxes with your hands as they are wild animals, and you do not want to be accidentally bitten by one of the foxes.
Foxes playing during winter time at the village.
The Fox Village takes up about 18,000 square feet and is home to the free-roaming foxes, hence visitors need to be cautious when exploring here. Even your dress code must be looked into. This means no hanging parts from your jacket or pants, as foxes are curious animals. Do not be surprised if you see a few foxes following you around, probably asking for food.
At one area, there is a viewing platform where visitors can observe the cute and cuddly foxes from a high platform. Feeding time for the foxes is at 10.30 AM, therefore you may want to be there just before the feeding time. You can easily spend a few hours here, depending on your objective of this visit, but I strongly recommend staying till after lunch.
Finally, at 11.00 AM and 2.00 PM, there is a meet the fox session, where you need to pay a little extra for this experience, and you can do this at the entrance when you get your entry tickets and food for the foxes. Note that they can change or cancel the meet the fox session due to weather or fox condition.
How Many Foxes Are Found Here?
Some of the cute baby fox at the village.
In total, there are six different species of foxes found at Zao Fox Village, and they are all mostly native to Japan, and a lot of them from the north.
The fox species found at Zao Fox Village are;
- Red Fox
- Cross Fox
- Silver Fox
- Platinum Fox
- Arctic Fox
- Japanese Red Fox
Again, you must take note that this is not a tourist attraction, and foxes are wild animals, hence if you are travelling with children, caution must be exercised, and children always supervised. This also applies to adult visitors.
Fox Village Souvenir Shop
Some of the souvenirs sold at the shop. Photo Zao Fox Village.
Without fail, there is always a souvenir shop at most tourist locations, and here you can also find one, which of course sells fox related products. The souvenirs here range from snacks, sweets to your commercial toys and key chains.
The sweets are worth buying as they carry the brand of the ‘Fox Village’ on the packaging. Some of them are even too cute to resist, and prices are pretty decent. Key chains look very commercial, but they are all in the form of furry foxes ranging from small to medium sizes.
The handmade wood carved foxes are equally interesting, and probably great as a gift for someone who loves animals. These carved foxes range from ¥500 to ¥1,600 per item. Other items include t-shirts, pillows, stickers, greeting cards, smartphone cases and many others. And of course, how can you forget the super commercial fridge magnets and mugs.
Some of the quirky but cute multi-language caution signs at the village.
Caution at the Zao Fox Village
With any natural wildlife attraction, there is always caution that must be observed. And over at the Fox Village, they are pretty strict with what you can and cannot do here. As you know, tourist will always be tourist, wanting to touch things and take a million photos, but over here, things are different.
As for the foxes, they roam freely, hence you must not be in direct contact with them. They are wild, and they can bite you. Photography is also a very tricky matter, as the website mentions that there is no photography allowed, including drones. But I believe smartphone photos are allowed. Please check with the counter about this.
Carrying food in your pocket, pouch or bags are also to be avoided, as the foxes may approach or attack you for the food. Again, they are wild animals and not circus trained for tourist. When you get to the Fox Village, you will be reminded again about all the rules and regulations to be observed here. The last thing you want is to be bitten by a fox and sent to a clinic or hospital.
The map showing where Zao Fox Village is located at.
Where is Zao Fox Village?
Zao Village is located in the Shiroishi District of the Miyagi Prefecture near Sendai. And the closest train station town is Shiroishi, and from here, it takes a 20-minute drive to the fox village.
Miyagi Prefecture is located about four hours drive north of Tokyo and is near the Fukushima area. This is one of the lesser explored destinations of Japan too.
How To Go To Zao Fox Village?
One of the cute foxes yawning.
Generally, you need to take a train to Shiroishi, and from there, you can take a taxi or bus to the Zao Fox Village. There are no direct flights here, and the closest large city is Sendai. This means that you can fly into Sendai, and also drive one hour to the fox village.
From Shiroishi Town – For those who take the train to Shiroishi Town, there is a bus service that goes to the fox village at the train station. Look for the Castle Kun Bus which goes to the Kawarago Dam every Tuesday and Friday. There are two bus schedules, one at 7.58 AM, and the other at 1.35 PM, and let the bus driver know that you want to get off at Zao Fox Village or Zao Kitsune Mura. Fare is ¥200 one way.
From Tokyo – If you plan to visit from Tokyo, there are a few ways to make this trip here. First is to rent a car and self-drive there. This would take you about four hours one way and is a great way to explore this part of Japan. You can also take the express train from Tokyo to Shiroishi, which only takes you two hours one way. From there, take a taxi to the Fox Village.
From Osaka – Honestly, it is best to fly into Sendai, rent a car and self-drive to the Fox Village. This would be the best option for anyone travelling out of Tokyo.
A view of the observation deck at the fox village.
When is The Best Time to Visit The Fox Village?
Generally, all year through is a good time, but the optimum time would be in spring or autumn. Summertime poses a very busy time and there will be a lot of people here, namely locals. But in the summer, it tends to be a little hot and can be a little smelly.
With that being said, I would personally recommend going just before or after winter. And if you are there for the winter, the foxes would stand out against the snow. But expect the place to be very cold during the winter.
Miyagi Zao Fox Village
Address: Kawarago-11-3 Fukuokayatsumiya, Shiroishi, Miyagi 989-0733, Japan
Hours: 9.00 AM to 4.30 PM
Closed: Every Wednesday
Phone: +81 224-24-8812
Entrance Fees: ¥1,000 per person
Children: Free Entrance for those under 12 years old