Zao Fox Village 宮城蔵王 キツネ村
Feeling foxy in the mountains of Zao
Thanks to word-of-mouth and social media sites such as YouTube, Zao Fox Village has become a must-visit location for overseas travelers. Less of a zoo and more of a free-roaming forest with miniature fox houses, Zao Fox Village is one-of-a-kind.
View the foxes ambling about or relaxing, hear them sing their distinct fox call, and even have your chance to feed and cuddle them.
- Snap the perfect selfie but take heed of the safety warnings
- Buy some fox food to treat the foxes of the village
- Finish your trip with a delicious bowl of specialty noodles
How to Get There
Reach Zao Fox Village by train or bus, combined with taxi or shuttle bus services.
From Tokyo , take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Shiroishi-Zao station.
Alternatively, take the train or highway bus to Sendai . From Sendai, you can take the local JR train direct to Shiroishi Station (45 minutes). From both stations, you will have to take either a taxi or shuttle bus to reach Fox Village, the latter being much more economical unless you are in a group.
Safety is paramount
While the foxes might look cute and tame, they are still semi-wild. Pay attention to the staff members when they explain the rules as you enter. Touching the animals in the main enclosure is not allowed, the foxes cannot be given food outside the feeding area, and wash your hands thoroughly upon exit.
It is also useful to keep moving in the main enclosure as if you are standing still; the curious foxes will bite at your shoes or the ends of your pants.
Similarly, if you purchase food to feed the foxes, keep this out-of-sight until you are given permission to do so.
A veritable menagerie
While foxes are the main attraction, Zao Fox Village is home to more than just foxes. Greet the miniature ponies, see the goats and birds, and visit the petting zoo of bunnies. During spring, you may have the chance to hold and take a picture with a fox cub for an additional fee.
A village unlike any other
With no time limit to your wandering around Zao Fox Village, you can leisurely watch the foxes and focus on trying to get the perfect snapshot. Foxes roam around between the rocky and grassy edges of the enclosure or the concentrated center of small wooden huts and platforms where they like to sleep.
Pilgrimage to Inari Shrine
There are many folktales, myths, and legends about foxes in Japan. Particularly, foxes are believed to be able to transform into humans and like to play tricks.
Try to make peace with these cheeky creatures by visiting the village's red Inari Shrine flanked by two fox statues. About one-third of the shrines in Japan are considered shrines dedicated to Inari Okami, the Shinto deity of prosperity, fertility, and rice. The messenger of this deity is the fox.
Upon your return
Before leaving, you have a chance to purchase fox character souvenirs at the shop. Stop by the venue's small restaurant for a bowl of kitsune soba (fox soba) buckwheat noodles with fried tofu, which is traditionally believed to be a favorite of foxes.
If you want to explore the area further, consider combining your visit with a trip to Shiroishi City where you will find a sake brewery, doll museum, and the reconstructed Shiroishi Castle.