Zao Fox Village
Catch a Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shiroishi-Zao (less than 2 hours) and hop on a taxi to the famous Zao Fox Village. Enter the Cage of the Fox and be mesmerized by the foxes! They all have a glorious coat of fur, and look absolutely adorable. Hug a tame and friendly fox for a fee of ¥400, or spend ¥100 on little bags of treats for them.
Watch them come up to you or even engage in little tussles, but do be careful, as some of the more mischievious ones might nip your butt. Go during winter so you can get even more amazing photos of them against a white backdrop.
Jigokudani Monkey Park
Jigokudani Monkey Park is the best place to spot some snow monkeys. The unique fact about this species of monkeys is that they are the only primates to survive such cold temperatures, apart from us, human beings. These are hands down some of those rare Japanese animals that everyone raves about. These monkeys have a thick coat of fur which protects them from cold. They are brown-grey in color with red faces. There are a number of hot springs in this park, which is where you will spot most of them warming themselves.
Okunoshima Island in the Inland Sea of Japan is cuteness overload. Over 250 fluffy rabbits roam freely and they are rather tame and will approach humans, especially if you come loaded with treats.
No dogs or cats are allowed on the island and the rabbits live in some sort of a bunny paradise here. But this was not always the case. During the 1920s, the island was used to manufacture chemical weapons that were then tested on bunnies. The rabbits that populate the island now are not descendants of the lab ones, but rather of eight bunnies that were raised by a nearby elementary school and then set free.
Tsukuba Wan Wan Land
Nestled in Ibaraki, Tsukuba Wan Wan Land is quite difficult to get to, but it is a paradise for dog lovers. The entire place is huge and even comprises a stadium and stage. You can bring your own dog, or play with the friendly pups here. There are so many of them and it is quite interesting to see how they mingle and run around.
Located in the city centre of Nara, the picturesque Nara Park attracts around 13 million visitors annually. You can buy some deer crackers at the park to coax some of the 1,200-strong deer population into taking a traditional Japanese bow before feeding them!
If you have been to Nara Park, then put Miyajima on your list. While tame Sika deer are also one of the popular lures of Miyajima, this island offers a different experience altogether in terms of other attractions.
Japan does not have one or two but eleven cat islands! The best-known ones are the Tashirojima and Aoshima Islands and they are ideal places to indulge in your petting urges.
The cats were first introduced by the fishermen to protect silkworms (used to spin fishing nets) by keeping the mice population at bay. Cats outnumber people up to 6 to 1 on these islands and dogs are obviously not allowed. Bring in treats and take your time to play and pet the fluffy kitties.