Visit a fox-themed zoo Zao Fox Village
Located in Miyagi Prefecture, Zao Fox Village is the perfect place for animal enthusiasts. This small village located at the base of Mt. Zao is home to more than 100 foxes that have become quite accustomed to human visitors. The foxes live free-range in a picturesque garden surrounded by nature and the animal sanctuary even offers a “huge a baby fox” experience in spring. In Japan, foxes are said to be messengers of Inari Okami, the Shinto deity of fertility, prosperity and rice.
Receive good fortune on Cat Island
You’ve got to be a fan of felines to visit Tashirojima, or “Cat Island”, as this small island in the Tohoku region of northern Japan boasts more cats than people. The Japanese believe that cats bring good fortune, so local residents of this area make sure that cats are well fed and taken care of, which has led to a steady increase in population. The island even has a cat shrine along with cat shaped cabins you can stay overnight in.
See monkeys bathing in hot springs at Jigokudani Monkey Park
Home to the world-famous “snow monkeys”, Jigokudani Monkey Park is a unique place to relax and unwind. To get to the park from Nagano station, you will have to take a local train to Yudanaka, then a bus to the snow monkey park, and finally a 40-minute hike to reach the hot springs. Over 160 Japanese Macaque monkeys inhabit the area and offer an unforgettable opportunity to observe them in the wild as they blissfully unwind.
Explore stone caverns at Oya History Museum
Used to be a mining site, the stone caverns of Oya have since been converted into a public museum. This is a place that you can learn about the long history of the mining industry that dates back to the 17th century and explores the underground cavern that is large enough to fit a baseball field and 196 feet at its deepest point. The atmosphere here is often compared to the ancient ruins of Egypt or Rome, and guests might feel like they’ve accidentally wandered into a scene from Indiana Jones.
Discover Ghibli Museum
Many attractions are advertised as “fun for all ages,” but the Studio Ghibli Museum in western Tokyo truly is a spectacle for both young and old. Designed by legendary Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, the museum is made up of a series of themed rooms meant to give visitors the feeling of being inside an artist’s storyboard. Each room has a unique theme, and every month there is a short film that can only be seen at the museum’s theater.
Pet furry bunnies on Rabbit Island
A small island in the Seto Inland Sea, Okunoshima, or “Rabbit Island”, is two miles off the coast of the Japanese city of Takehara in Hiroshima Prefecture. The small island is only 2.5 miles around and can be explored in less than an hour, but it’s cuddly residents make up for its lack of size. It boasts over 1,000 cute furry bunnies that come in all shapes and sizes, with babies looking like cotton fluff to black, orange and brindle rabbits all roaming around and greeting visitors.
Meet bowing deer in Nara
You can visit Nara to see some of Japan’s richest collection of traditional sites, but this popular day trip from Kyoto is also famed for its resident bowing deer that roam the city. Once considered sacred messengers of the gods, animal enthusiasts can now meet around 1,200 deer and spend an entire day feeding the curious creatures deer crackers. The deer are so polite that they will make a bowing gesture in order to charm visitors and entice them to offer more treats.