Zao Fox Village
For fox sake.
Japan is cute animal sanctuary central and what could possibly be cuter than a fox village? In the picturesque mountains of Miyagi prefecture you can watch, feed and take adorable pictures with six different breeds of Japanese foxes.
Once you arrive, stock up on cheap bags of fox food at the entrance and get your camera ready to capture some foxy hijinks.
The main part of the village works as a kind of open-air fox preserve where foxes roam freely outside. There are a few houses and play areas for the foxes but you can pretty much get away with pretending you’re the Lord of the Foxes in your own live-action fairy tale.
The foxes are wild so avoid trying to get too close to them without permission from the friendly staff. If you do desperately want to play or stroke one of the many fluffy inhabitants, they can set you up with a more docile member of the crew.
A special section is set aside for those who want to cuddle a sleepy fox (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?)
This is obviously very popular, so make sure you give yourself enough time to line up before your coach or taxi leaves. If you don’t fancy getting comfy with the real thing, you can always purchase a range of fox plushies and souvenirs from the on-site shop.
Although accessible all year round, visiting in winter is highly recommended for the ethereal quality it adds to the village. Bring hiking boots (whatever the season) to make it easier to explore in the snow and protect you from the inevitable piles of fox poo.
Foxes get a pretty bad rep for being tricksters in many cultures but in Japan they’re also believed to be magical beings and messengers of Inari Okami, the Shinto deity of fertility, prosperity and rice. After an hour or two hanging out with these little guys you might just believe they’ve got a little magic in them too.