The Amazing Zao Fox Village

Japan is known for their outrageous fads, cosplay, anime, manga, and gaming. Aside from all those great things that make the country so unique, they also have a Cat Island (Tashirojima) and a Rabbit Island (Ōkunoshima).

Tashirojima is a small island in Japan in Ishinomaki, Miyagi. The island is a small fishing community of about 100 residents. It is known as Cat Island because of the number of cats that live in it. Amazingly, cats outnumber the locals almost four to 1. The stray cats thrive on the island because residents believe that feeding the cats will bring them wealth and good fortune. These cats roam freely in the streets and most can be found hanging around Nitoda Port.

22962671626_af2656cdc1_zOn a tiny island on the Inland Sea of Japan, in the city of Takehara, in Hiroshima Prefecture, there is Ōkunoshima also known as Usagi Jima or Rabbit Island because of the unbelievable number of feral rabbits that call it home.

If Cat Island and Rabbit Island are not enough, believe it or not, Japan also has Zao Fox Village! Zao Fox Village is located in the mountains near Shiroishi in Miyagi Prefecture. The village is a haven for over 100 animals and six different types of foxes. Foxes are a huge part of Japanese culture and history and figure in several Japanese folktales.

Foxes at Zao Fox Village. | Olena Shmahalo

22988720655_ee65ae43c5_zZao Fox Village is a preserve with small houses and structures to house foxes. There is a shrine with statues and a torii.  The animals roam freely, there is a petting zoo, and visitors are rewarded with the beautiful Miyagi Zao mountain scenery. The Fox Village is close to the town of Shiroishi that can be conveniently reached by a bullet train to Shiroishi Station. From there, it’s a quick 20-30 minute drive to the picturesque mountain preserve.

Fox, close up. | Olena Shmahalo

Watch the foxes of Zao Fox Village in action in this YouTube video by Rachel & Jun:

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Zao Fox Village is a wonderful addition to your bucket list of places to visit when in Japan!