Japan For Animal Lovers

Oh Japan, the land of the rising sun, of some of the best food in the world, of the quirkiest and craziest inventions and the most exotic animal encounters in their natural habitats. While most countries have dog cafes and cat cafes, Japan goes one level beyond with owl cafes, hedgehogs cafes and even have entire islands dedicated to animals! Talk about devotion.

Here are some places to explore if you’re an animal lover!

Bunny Island, Okunoshima

Free Entry

Can you believe this island started from just 5 bunnies?! Of course you can, rabbits are notorious for their breeding capacity. It wasn’t always green fields and hopping bunnies, in fact, Okunoshima used to hold a poison gas factory in the late 1920s, and a secret test site for chemical warfare during World War II. What a drastic improvement. Though if you really want to delve into the island’s history, there is a Poison Gas Museum you can visit for 100Yen.

 

Getting There:
The island is part of the Japan Inland Sea, located near Takehara-city in Hiroshima prefecture.

Take the train to Tadanoumi and switch to the ferry. The earliest ferry leaves Tadanoumi at 7:30 and the last ferry departs the island at 16:13 (17:13 only during February-October).

The ferry fare is 360 yen one way, or 720 yen for a round trip ticket.
Click here for more information.

Good to know:
Bring your own fruits and vegetables to feed the bunnies as the rabbit food for sale can be quite expensive!

Deer Park, Nara

Free entry

Probably the most famous animal experience in Japan! There are about 1,200 free-roaming Sika deers in this park and yes, you can get up-close and personal. The best part about these beautiful creatures? They literally bow to you. Dang, even the animals in Japan are so polite! Japan, you’re definitely doing something right. These deers are considered Japan “national natural treasures” so do bow back to them ok?

Getting There:
The nearest train station to the park is the Kintetsu Nara Station and you can walk by foot from there.

Good To Know:
You can purchase “deer crackers” a.k.a shinka senbei to feed the deers, but do be warned, once they smell it they will flock to you as a herd. So if you have kids with you, do be extra careful. Also, teasing them with the crackers may end in injuries. Bottomline is, do not open your crackers in the middle of the park.

Jikogudani Monkey Park, Nagano

800 Yen for Adults, 400 Yen for Kids

Literally monkey see monkey do. The macaques of Japan allegedly learned that the best way to keep warm during frigid winters was to take a nice long dip in the open air hot baths a.ka. onsens after witnessing one brave monkey take the first dip. Don’t worry, you won’t be disturb by them if you’re heading to an onsen in Nagano as they have their own designated bath which they gladly soak in while visitors snap photos. Oh, what an invasion of privacy.

 

Getting There:
Click here for more information.

Good to Know:
The best time to visit would be in winter, especially around January and February when the monkeys huddle around for warmth.

Tashirojima Cat Island, Miyagi

Free Entry

This is just one of the thirteen cat islands in Japan. The Japanese really do adore these felines don’t they? It was never meant to be a cat island for tourists to visit. In the Edo-period, residents of Tashirojima raised silk worms as a source of income but mice which fed on these worms soon became a problem and the farmers brought in cats to combat this issue. However, over time, the cat population increased while the human population decreased and currently, cats outnumber humans, Kitty power!

 

Getting There:
Take the Ajishima Line bus from Ishinomaki Station, it will bring you to the front of Ajishima Ferry Terminal. There are only three departures a day so do plan ahead!

Click here for more information.

Good To Know:
You can stay on this island! There are a few guesthouses for visitors who adore cats and would love to spend more time there. There’s even a guesthouse shaped like a kitty!

Nasu Alpaca Farm, Tochigi

800 Yen for Adults, 400 Yen for Kids

Nasu is known for its beautiful mountain scenery and terrific hot springs, and, also home to one of the largest alpaca farms in Japan with over 400 alpacas roaming its premises! You can feed them, stroll alongside these excessively fluffy creatures, oh what I wouldn’t give to cuddle them!

 

Getting There:
Your best bet is to drive or get a taxi. There is a public bus that runs ONLY during certain times of the year around Spring and Fall.

Click here for more information.

Good To Know:
Shearing season is from the latter part of May to June. So if you want to touch their soft, fluffy wool, do plan wisely.

Zao Fox Village, Miyagi

1000Yen for anyone over 12 Years Old

How often do you get to see a fox up close and personal? Probably never. But here at the Fox Village in the Miyagi Prefecture, you can! What started in 1990 as a sanctuary for foxes has now become—like the cat and rabbit islands—a tourist attraction. Well we just can’t help it when something as cute and fluffy as this shows up on the map can we?

*It is not recommended to bring kids below 12 as the foxes aren’t tame.

 

Getting There:
Alight at the Shiroishi Station on the Tohoku line. From there, you’ll need to take a 20-minute taxi ride to the Fox village (about 4000 yen per trip).

Click here for more information.

Good To Know:
Do not bring your own food as the foxes are only allowed to eat the food the sanctuary provides. Also, be aware of your personal belongings, these are wild foxes after-all and might steal anything that dangles in front of them.

Izu Shaboten Park, Shizouka

2,300 Yen for Adults and 1,100 Yen for Children

So monkeys aren’t the only creatures in Japan that enjoy a good soak in winter. Evidently, Capybaras love it too! Yeah I know what you’re thinking, what on earth is a Capybara? They are of the rodent family, so basically giant rats? Before you skip this part, take a look at the video below, they aren’t as scary as what’s running through your mind right now.

 

Getting There:
Take the Tokaido Shinkansen on Tokaido Main Line.
From Atami Station, take the JR Ito Line to Ito Station. From there, it is approx. 35 min by Tokai Bus or 25 min by taxi.
If disembarking at Izukogen Station on the Izu Kyuko Line, approx. 20 min by Tokai Bus or 15 min by taxi.

Click here for more information.

Good To Know:
Onsen viewing is only available in Winter so do plan ahead! While going all the way to Izu to look at large rodents bathing isn’t your idea of fun, you can find comfort in the fact that Izu boasts a beautiful coasts and some of the best onsen resorts in Japan. It may just be worth the trip after all.

Cape Shiriya, Aomori

Free Entry

Come meet the Kandachime, the “horses that stand in the cold” who roams free along Cape Shiriya. They can often be seen grazing around the historic lighthouse installed at Cape Shiriya; it’s almost like a scene out of the movies. Wild as they may be, they still allow strangers to pet and feed them, but still, do exercise caution when approaching these majestic creatures.

Getting There:
Departing from Aomori Station, take the Aoimori Line towards Noheji Station. and transfer there to the JR Ominato Line (towards Ominato). Get off at Shimokita Station and take the Shimokita Kotsu Bus to the Mutsu Bus Terminal.

Take the Shimokita Kotsu Bus (bound for Shiriya) and get off at Shiriyazaki stop.
Click here for more information.

Good To Know:
The area is closed between 1st December and 31st March. And Kandachime horses are in the breeding season from April to June, so you may find foals if you visit close to that period.

And if you haven’t gotten enough of animals, check out these adventure-loving pets that will melt your heart!

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