What does the fox say? Well, you can find out at the Zao Fox Village in Shiroishi, Japan. This beautiful and scenic part of Japan is an enclosure for six different breeds of foxes that you can pet, take pictures with, and even give some treats too.
This day adventure starts with a trip to the Shiroishi Zao Station by bullet train or regular train. This town has a JR tourism office outside the Shinkansen gates where you can get a cab to take you to the Fox Village. It is about a thirty to forty minute ride up the mountains of Miyagi Prefecture, but the view from the taxi is breathtaking!
When you get to the gates, it costs 1000 yen (about $9) for anyone over 13 years of age and is free for anyone younger. Don’t forget to pick up a bag of fox treats to feed the foxes later! The bag of hot-dog-looking bites only costs 100 yen ($0.88), but you will have to hide it away in a purse or pocket; the foxes are always hungry, and will try to eat treats the second the see them! After that, the real adventure begins.
The first part of the village is a few cages with foxes in them and some cute, little foxes on collar leashes. There are also some bunnies, goats, and a mini horse you can pet and hold in the first section. This mini petting zoo is a lot of fun, and you can take as many photos as you want with these happy animals. However, this is not everything this village has to offer!
Following the “petting zoo” part of the village, you can wander back to the main attraction of the Zao Fox Village: the fox enclosure. This section has dozens of foxes in a more natural enclose. These foxes are walking around, snoozing, eating, and some are even playing with each other. You can walk along with the foxes, in the sanctuary with them. And if you purchased that optional bag of treats at the entrance of the village, there is a ledge where you can feed the foxes from!
If you forgot to get some treats, you can go back and purchase some at any time. But, only feed the animals from the designated enclosures to feed them, and also be sure to toss the treats to the foxes and not to tease them (they are still wild animals, just living in an enclosure so you can get an up close view of them in a more natural habitat, plus they are really good jumpers).
This village is really more of a wilderness with some paths where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the fast paced and busy cities. The surrounding areas are also beautiful! The Fox village takes about an hour to an hour and a half for the average group of people to get through, but if you do not want the day trip to end, you can take in the beautiful scenery or enjoy the lovely gift shop at the Fox Village. Here you can purchase things made from faux fox fur, including stuffed that look like the foxes you spent all day admiring. And when you are ready to leave, the nice workers will at the gift shop will call you a cab and let you know when it arrives!
This is just one of many interesting places Japan has to offer, and if you want to make it an unforgettable one here are some tips to make sure it is the best experience:
- Wear boots! In the winter, it gets very snowy, and in the other months, there is fox feces that is laying around that you probably do not want to step in.
- A taxi can cost about 4,000 yen each way, and by car is the only way to Fox Village and back, so be sure to not spend your cab fare, or you may end up walking (which is not that bad due to the outstanding view).
- There is a Shinto shrine to Inari on the premise, so be sure to go pay your respects (or at least go see the stunning shrine to take some photos).
- These foxes are used to people, but will still try to get any food you have or try to play with any camera straps or untied shoe laces, so make sure these are tucked away.
- Do not try to pet any of the foxes in the enclosure! The domesticated ones are located in the petting zoo area of the village, but the other ones may take you trying to pet them as a threat.
- There is not any place for you to eat near or in the village, and you are not allowed to bring food in with you, so be sure to eat before you go.
- Be sure to read and follow all the directions at the front gate; these are to ensure your safety and the safety of the animal (as you are not followed around by a worker, but are allowed to wander as you please).
The Fox Village is one-of-a-kind and is a must see! These adorable animals are wonderful to watch and snap a few photos of while taking in the scenic mountains. Just remember to have fun and follow the rules to keep both human and foxes safe and happy!
Castle Kun Bus connects Shiroishi Station (the old line) and the Kawarago Dam every Tuesday and Friday. The first bus departs at Shiroishi Station at 7:58 and arrives at the Kawarago Dam at 8:55 AM. The second bus departs at Shiroishi Station at 1:35 PM and arrives at the Kawarago Dam at 2:32 PM. Ask the bus driver to stop in front of Zao Kitsune Mura (fox town). For your way back, please get on the bus that arrives at the Kawarago Dam at 2:32 PM. Or you can always ask the bus driver where to wait for the bus on your way back when you get off. Bus fare is 200 yen.
Yakushi no Yu Shuttle Bus must make your reservation at least three days in advance. Runs everyday since May 1, 2015.
10:30 Yakushi-no-Yu ⇒ 12:00 Sendai Station East Entrance.
12:30 Sendai Station East Entrance ⇒ 2:00 Yakushi no Yu.
If you are staying at Yakushi no Yu, you will have a driver take you to and pick up at Zao Kitsune Mura. For more details, please go to TokuToku Jouhou (valuable information) or contact Shiroishi Onsen Yakushi no Yu.
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Zao Fox Village
Address: 11-3 Kawarago, Fukuokayatsumiya, Shiroishi-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Access: Refer to access above
Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Website: Zao Fox Village