Less than one hour drive from Sendai, Zao Fox Village is Japan’s fox-themed animal park.
Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, in the northern Tohoku region, on Honshu - Japan's main island.
Foxes in Japanese Folklore
Foxes, kitsune in Japanese, commonly feature in Japanese folklore and culture. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom.
According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. Carved stone statues of foxes can sometimes be found at the entrance to shinto shrines.
Beautiful Foxes at Zao Fox Village
In the video below I follow one fox whose attention was drawn by noises on the other side of the park's perimeter fencing. I could hear the sound of rustling leaves but couldn't see what was making the noise.
Although the fox was preoccupied, as it peered through the fence trying to locate the source of the rustling, it knew I was following and was very relaxed about me getting very close so I could photograph and film it.
Pros and Cons of Zao Fox Village
Generally, I don't like seeing animals in captivity, so did a fair bit of research before deciding to come here. There are definitely pros and some cons of the concept.
However, on balance, I think the foxes at Zao Fox Village have a good life and they certainly live longer here than they would in the wild.
The Miyagi Mountains
More than 100 foxes freely roam in a park. The village is located in a quiet, rural area of the Miyagi mountains, in a wildlife protection area. It's a lovely setting and I was surprised at just how large the park is.
As the foxes are used to seeing humans, it is possible to get up close to these beautiful animals - as you can see in the film below.
Indeed, if you are carrying food, some of the more inquisitive (and braver) foxes are bold enough to jump up at or climb onto you if you're not careful.
The Fox Hospital
On site there is a fox 'hospital'. Here, foxes that are sick for any reason can be cared for and quarantined before being returned to the village.
If you like foxes but are uncomfortable with zoos (as am I) then I recommend doing further research on Zao Fox Village before deciding to visit to reach your own decision.
Me? I was glad I went and had the opportunity get so close to these beautiful creatures.
VIDEO: Beautiful Foxes at Zao Fox Village
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Getting to Zao Fox Village
11-3 Kawarago, Fukuokayatsumiya Shiroishi-shi, Miyagi prefecture 989-0733
9:00-17:00 (winter season 16:00)
Adults (13 plus) 1000 yen/ Children (12 and under) Free