If you love foxes and you always dreamt of interacting closer to them, then I have some great news for people visiting Japan or for the ones living here. Half an hour from Shiroishi shinkansen station there is a place called Zao Fox Village (or Kitsune Mura) where you have the opportunity to see these cute animals closer, for a decent entry ticket of 1000¥. And now, let’s see what the village has to offer!
Now, you may think what’s the difference between seeing them at the zoo or here? Well, the first main difference is that you can see the majority of them in “freedom”. This means there is a big park where the foxes are just walking freely and you can just walk near them. It’s a great way to study their behavior and seeing them interacting with the people so close.
Just bare in mind that are wild animals and you shouldn’t get too close or try to touch one, as they will bite. There are clear rules to be followed in the park and you’ll have to read and obey to the instructions for your own safety. There aren’t employees around and often you’ll find yourself alone with the foxes, so take all the precautions to stay safe. This way you’ll be able to truly enjoy the experience at Zao fox village.
Unfortunately, not all the foxes are in freedom. You will see some in cages, leashes or with collars. This may make you feel you’re in a zoo and start questioning if you’ve done the right thing visiting the place. I saw some of them wounded, so I assume they have to take care of them independently until releasing them into the “village”. However, some of them appeared in good conditions so I’m still wondering why they must stay there.
Apart from the foxes, there are also some goats and rabbits you can see around. There are all in cages with not a big or green space, which looks a bit depressing. These animals are for sure not difficult to see around, so I’m still wondering why are there.
Probably the best experience you can get at Zao fox village is the fox cuddling. You’ll have to pay an additional fee of 600¥, but in return you’ll have the opportunity to cuddle one fox. First, you’ll be provided with two jackets to cover yourself and keep you clean. Then, the staff will explain you how to deal with the fox which is important to not get injured.
The experience is quite short, I would say maximum 5 minutes per person, so keep this in mind. The advantage is that the staff will take care of the photos, so you can focus on the experience. You’ll only have to place your phone in a basket prior grabbing the fox. After that, they will deal with the photographs – which is ideally if you come alone. And if you go in spring you can cuddle baby foxes!
How much time do you need?
You need about 1.5 to maximum 2 hours to enjoy the place. Everything above 2h would be too much. And if you’re able to take several pictures with the foxes in the situation above, that’s probably a sign that you’re there for too long. I suggest you go there in the morning to have the opportunity to see them a bit more active. this means while fighting to each other, running freely or blocking your entrance / exit door. In general, the majority of them are sleeping and relaxing – so you can take nice steady pictures.
Well, transportation is the trickiest part of this trip. If you’re driving there are no issues, as Zao fox village is just about 30 minutes driving from Shiroishi station. However, if you’re relying on public transportation you should carefully plan, as it’s not that simple. There are only 2 public buses leaving Shiroishi station for Zao fox village (10.10am –> 10.40am, 1.10pm –> 1.40pm) and two to come back from the Zao fox village to the station (12.05pm –> 12.45pm, 3.05pm –> 3.35pm). And as if this wouldn’t be enough, the buses are available only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays (sometimes also on Tuesdays). However, the public transportation is affordable, with a price ticket of 800¥ one way.
If you miss the bus or come on a day that doesn’t operate, you can take a taxi for about 4500¥ one way. From the station, you can ask the tourist information office to call one for you. For the return, the staff there can call one too.
If you come with the first bus and take the last one back, you’ll end up with too much time (as in my case). That’s why I had a lot of time to check all the souvenirs in the shop so I can tell you they have everything you want. One nice souvenir that attracted my attention was the phone support above, which can be pretty useful at home.
Despite the nice souvenir shop, there is no place to rest, have a coffee or eat. Not in the Zao fox village or around. So you should better not come on empty stomach or with high expectations. There are a few warm beverages you can buy, but nothing else.
Well, that’s it from my side. I hope you enjoyed the article and one day you’ll visit Zao fox village by yourself. Meanwhile, get inspired from more articles across Japan and not only, here.
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