Japan: Foxes, Foxes and more Foxes!! A visit to the Zao Fox Village - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Japan: Foxes, Foxes and more Foxes!! A visit to the Zao Fox Village

Sleepy fox 
In Miyagi there is a special place called the Zao Fox Village where you have the opportunity to get close to foxes in their natural environment (or at least as natural as it can get in a human-made village).
The fox (キツネ ・ 狐) has a very special place in Japanese mythology where it has made its appearance in a number of stories, and among its many roles it is known as the messenger of the rice god Inari. With their cat-like appearance it is no wonder that these furry creatures are adored by a lot of people.
The entrance to the fox village
Amee and I visited the fox village as a part of our two day trip to Miyagi. The previous day we had explored Sendai, so in order to get to the fox village we had to take a local train to Shiroishi (白石) station. There is a bus that passes by the place where the fox village is located, but unfortunately the bus only runs on Tuesdays and Fridays once in the morning so the easiest way is to get there by taxi. It costs about 4000 yen one way, and entrance to the fox village is 1000 yen/person.

The platina fox Haa-chan
When we first entered we were approached by one of the staff members who asked us about our nationalities and whether we would want to touch the foxes. He brought us a white fox (platina fox - プラチナキツネ) called Haa-chan and a red fox called Sakura. 

One of the fox village's staff let us cuddle the fox


Probably supposed to mean something like 遠い所までようこそ. 
Before we entered the area where the foxes roam freely around village we got a short instruction about how to behave around them. Apparently the foxes might chase after you if they notice you have food, so you have to keep edible things out of the foxes' sight. They are also likely to bite you if you reach out your hand to them, thinking it is food, and according to one of the staff they might also come up from behind and bite you in the but if you're squatting down. Although the foxes are used to having people around they're still wild animals, so keep that in mind if you get the chance to go visiting them.
One of the cages displaying various types of foxes
The fox might mistakenly think you have food for it and bite if you try to touch it
Inside the area where the foxes roam freely there is a small feeding space where visitors can give snack to the foxes. A lot of foxes were gathered around and waiting for goodies. 

The foxes seem to be quite relaxed, some of them were playing around but most of most of them were just relaxing peacefully in the sun. Some of them would however start fighting over the snack that visitors fed them, so they also had some cages for injured foxes. It seems like the foxes are taken well care of, but the share number of them make it more likely that they end up hurting each other. If anything there were a bit too many foxes for the small area. With that said, I got the impression that the staff was doing a good job taking care of them, and they did have a certain degree of freedom within the village with visitors' movement being restricted to the main trails making sure that people wouldn't get too close to them.
A fox in front of the feeding area
Beautiful fox 
White fox
Foxes waiting for food
Foxes waiting for food

Hi there little foxy!

If you ever wondered about fox age in human years this chart could be useful.
 (キツネ = fox, 人間 = human 月 = months 才 = years old (human) 年 = years)

 There are also other animals living in the Fox Village (of course having their own areas within the village). Here are some of the rabbits we saw, and we also had the chance to pet some goats and ponies.
In the souvenir shop you can buy a cute souvenir while you wait for your taxi

If you're going directly back to Tokyo after a visit to the fox village you might want to travel to Shiroishi Zaō station (白石蔵王) rather than Shiroishi station, as you can catch the Shinkansen directly from there. A train ride to Tokyo from Shiroishi Zao costs 8550 yen and takes approximately 1:25 hours to Omiya.

A map of the Zao area.
A map of the Zao area. The Shiroishi station and Shiroishizao (shinkansen) station marked in read. People interested in a stay at a Japanese hot spring might also want to check out the Kamasaki Hot Spring.

Recommended Hotels in Sendai

Sendai Washington Hotel
Sendai Washington Hotel
The Westin Sendai Hotel
The Westin Sendai Hotel
Mitsui Garden Hotel Sendai
Mitsui Garden Hotel Sendai
Sendai Royal Park Hotel
Sendai Royal Park Hotel

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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