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The Ultimate Guide to Zao Fox Village Japan

We took a trip to Shiroishi in the mountains of Miyagi Prefecture to visit a village filled with hundreds of real wild foxes, armed with adorably cute smiles, or better known as Miyagi Zao Fox Village. And for some reason they all look like they’re smiling at you, even when they are asleep. This could very well could be the cutest place on Earth.

There are over six species of foxes here at the sanctuary. But, correction, it’s not an actual village, it’s more like a really large forest filled with foxes in an enclosed area. They all sit and bask in the snow and smile at your camera and occasionally you can catch a couple of them fighting like you see on Nat Geo Wild. I’m not the least bit surprised this place exists in Japan. TONS of cool places like this exist around Japan and it kills me every time I realize I cannot possibly see them all. Just google “bunny island Japan or Japan rabbit island,” and you’ll see a similar attraction. Zao Fox Village Japan: Cute fox

Traveling from Tokyo to Zao Fox Village is very easy. And as you can see, going in the winter is quite scenic.


Getting to Zao Fox Village

Travel Guide to Fox Village

Directions & Train Station

  • From Tokyo, it’s a very easy day trip. Take the Shinkansen to Shiroishizao station. From Tokyo station, you don’t even need to change trains. The journey is just 109 minutes long. You can use the scheduling tool Hyperdia to arrange your train times. 
Riding on the Train

  • If you’re traveling to Japan and traveling outside of Tokyo, you will need a JR RAIL PASS. It will save you money in the end. The Shinkansen costs A LOT of money without this pass. 

  • To purchase this pass, please use Japan Rail’s banner link below or click right here. They will provide fast shipment to you. They offer 7 day, 14 day or 21 day passes. 

  • Once you arrive at Shiroishizao station, it looks like every other small town in Japan, except this station has a nice little JR tourism office out front once you exit the Shinkansen gates. Chances are there will be few cabs, but if not just walk into this office and the kind lady inside will call you a taxi. 

  • It took only five minutes before the taxi arrived. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you can also travel to Shiroishi station, but this takes a lot longer coming from Tokyo and is not a stop on the Shinkansen.

  • The actual cab ride from Shiroishizao station to Zao Fox Village took about 20 minutes. It costs about 4000 yen each way. 

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Travel Tips For Japanese Fox Sanctuary
  • Wear hiking boots. There is actually a lot of snow in the winter, and even in the summer, there is fox poo everywhere!

  • Read the directions given to you at the front office carefully. Don’t bring any of your own food into the fox enclosure. And don’t feed any of the foxes unless you are protected by the caged area. They will likely attack you if they even think you have food.

  • You can buy food to feed the foxes for about 200 yen for a small bag of tiny hot dog pieces. But you can only feed them in the enclosed area. You purchase the food inside when you buy your entry ticket, but they make you stuff the food in your purse because the foxes can hear the crinkle of the bag and will try to get it.

  • Be careful of things dangling like your camera strap and even your cell phone. Foxes are so hungry all the time and will pounce on anything they think is food. We saw a fox bury a girl’s cell phone in the snow. See the pic right below.

  • Going in the winter is super scenic.

  • Bring enough cash for cab fare. It’s about 4000 yen each way per cab ride.

  • Don’t attempt to pet the foxes. There are a few domestic friendly foxes outside the enclosure. You can pet them only. Be aware of all the signs hanging up around the park.

  • Bring food for yourself or eat beforehand because there’s not much to eat out this way at all.

  • Also on a side note: Shiroishizao station schedules a Shinkansen every hour which means, that you can actually SEE a Shinkansen fly past you at its full speed as it hurls through the station. If you’ve never seen this before, I highly recommend watching one fly by you. It’s like watching a jet fly past you five feet away. Simply awesome and a bit creepy.

Zao Fox Village Contact Information

  • ADDRESS: Kawarago-11-3 Fukuokayatsumiya, Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture 989-0733

  • TEL: 0224-24-8812

  • HOURS: Everyday 09:00 – 16:00

Cost

Between the Shinkansen cost and the cab ride, for a single day trip it’s about $300 a person. The entry ticket is about ¥1000 at the moment, with children under 12 free.

Zao Fox Village Japan: This little guy is smiling
Smiling basking in the sunlight
Zao Fox Village Japan: Cute in the snow
More smiles
Zao Fox Village Japan: A sleeping fox
They didn’t seem to mind us getting too close while the slept
Zao Fox Village Japan: Feeding the foxes
You can feed the foxes, but be careful to only feed them in this confined area. They are very aggressive if they think you have food.
Zao Fox Village Japan: Feeding the foxes
Beggars
Zao Fox Village Japan: Fighting like on Nat Geo Wild
It’s just like watching Nat Geo Wild
Zao Fox Village Japan: All lined up
They formed a food line

Zao Fox Village Japan: Tori gateZao Fox Village Japan: Sleeping in the snowZao Fox Village Japan: Jumping Zao Fox Village Japan: Smiling in its sleepZao Fox Village JapanZao Fox Village Japan: A ball of black and white furZao Fox Village Japan:

P.S. My fox shirt is from Forever 21. I bought it in Osaka. I got a ton of compliments on it that day. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to wear to Fox Village Japan.

He got his phone back
I snapped this pic literally right after this guy got his phone back from a fox that buried it in the snow!

JUST TO NOTE:

The foxes here looked pretty happy at the sanctuary. The enclosure isn’t that small and they have a lot of area to roam around the park. But, there are cages there that house the rowdier foxes and perhaps some babies. So yea, for those who hate zoo environments at all costs no matter what the condition, I do not recommend you visiting. However, personally, I’m not the type to shun all types of animal parks and from my perception, these guys looked happy.

Hope you can visit Fox Village Japan! Please share this article if you find it useful!

P.S. Are we friends on Instagram? Find me @thepassportlifestyle and on Pinterest too! (see my sidebar)

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52 Comments

  1. Billy
    May 2, 2017 at 9:09 pm — Reply

    hey that pic of the guy who just risked his arm from vicious foxes (i don’t care how cute they look) to retrieve the phone – that’s me !

  2. Khaeiycee
    March 24, 2017 at 3:18 am — Reply

    Hi Stephanie,
    I just wanted to inquire, what month did you visit the Fox Village?
    Thank you! 🙂

  3. Elise Wong
    March 21, 2017 at 10:54 am — Reply

    Hi Stephanie! My name is Elise and I read about your post the other day and it makes me really wanna go visit this place once I’m in Japan this coming August and seeing that you ‘ve been staying in Japan for quite some years and I’m a transport fluke, do you think it is okay if I consult you on certain Japan tourism spots? [email protected]

  4. January 30, 2017 at 4:24 pm — Reply

    Thank You Stephanie for this awesome blog and article. Last week, I literally just printed your article out at the Hilton Tokyo and followed what you said step by step. You made this excursion so easy. The Shinkansen ride to ShiroishiZao Station felt like it went by pretty fast and the taxi ride to Zao Fox Village was fun. Our taxi driver put on some epic video game music which made the scenic drive even more adventurous. Spent three hours in the enclosure and almost missed the chance to hold a fox because they stop that option one hour before they close. I politely asked four times and was shoving the fee into their hands — they eventually bent the rules for us thankfully. Too many great moments happened at Zao Fox Village to describe here. One fox nipped my hand (no blood resulted) when I wasn’t paying attention but I had been forewarned and I don’t consider this a problem. I’m glad this sanctuary exists in the world. I think I saw Totoro in the woods on the taxi ride back to the train station! On the subject of food, there is a Starbucks at Tokyo Station and we loaded up on sandwiches to eat on the bullet train ride heading north. On the way back, there was an inexpensive noodle/broth little restaurant at the ShiroishiZao Station which was really good since we were hungry and cold. That lady serving up the noodles was so kind and ever-smiling 🙂 I recommend making Zao Fox Village the only excursion of the day—we tried to do something else that night with friends but I was feeling quite exhausted. Highly recommend this trip to Zao Fox Village!

    • February 9, 2017 at 8:12 pm — Reply

      Hi Roddy!

      Thank you for the comment, I’m really happy you enjoyed my blog! I’m SO happy to hear that I was able to help you in your journey to Japan. Thank you for your trip recap! It sounds like you had quite a nice trip to Zao. Those foxes will definitely nip at your hands, especially if they think you have food!
      Stephanie recently posted…Falling Down the Rabbit Hole in KyotoMy Profile

  5. December 29, 2016 at 6:01 am — Reply

    wonderful post to informed!

  6. December 1, 2016 at 6:04 am — Reply

    What an awesome post! I leave to Japan in two weeks and the fox village is one of the last stops on my itinerary. I’ll be heading there from Tokyo. Do you mind if I ask where your directions are from? It takes about 4 hours to get there from Tokyo by train + the taxi you mentioned, and you said you only stayed there for about 3 hours. I’m an animal-lover, but am wondering if a day trip is worth it for 8 hours of travel? Hope to get your feedback!

  7. Paul
    November 16, 2016 at 4:42 am — Reply

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for the super useful post! I had a question about the $300 spent for the day trip – do you mind elaborating more on what goes into that price tag? I have 8000 yen for the cab ride from and to the Shiroishizao station which comes out to be about $73. Would the price still be $300 if the JR pass is bought?

    Thanks!

  8. Q
    November 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm — Reply

    Hi,

    How long did you stay there for? Was there any other shops around?

    I am trying to plan the shinkasen schedule

    Thanks

    Q

  9. Angela
    August 25, 2016 at 9:27 am — Reply

    Did you find it easy to get a taxi to and from the station to visit the fox village? 🙂

    • August 25, 2016 at 2:59 pm — Reply

      Yes, it’s easy. There’s a tourist office in the station that you can use to call a taxi
      Stephanie recently posted…The Top 5 Hotels in Portree Isle of SkyeMy Profile

      • Angela
        August 25, 2016 at 9:10 pm — Reply

        thanks so much for your reply 🙂

        Ill add this to my list. This place is a must, but I was a little worried about getting to and from the station via taxi

  10. Corinna
    July 17, 2016 at 8:38 am — Reply

    Hi, would like to email them to find out if they’re open in October 2016 and what the days they’re closed.
    Do u happen to know the email address ?
    TQ.

  11. Chloe
    May 30, 2016 at 5:48 pm — Reply

    Hi!

    I want to go there badly!
    But I heard it might be closed now due to earthquakes.. Is that true?
    Am going in june 🙂

    And that cab is quite expensive! I got a JR pass though.. So is there any route that the JR pass would cover? 🙂 and it is not far from tokyo from what I read 🙂 if we leave early thats very do-able!

    Great pictures by the way!

    Thanks in advance!

    • May 31, 2016 at 4:33 am — Reply

      Hi! I haven’t heard anything about the park closing from earthquakes but I’d suggest emailing the park to make sure hours haven’t changed. Your JR pass should cover you there on the Shinkansen because that’s the JR line. As for taxis, they are expensive all around Japan. Maybe you can take a bus but I only took a taxi so I can’t help you with the bus schedule. Good luck have fun!
      Stephanie recently posted…Iceland Road-trip Update & Why This Country is So PhotogenicMy Profile

  12. Linda
    April 9, 2016 at 3:54 pm — Reply

    Hi Stephanie. Great blog! Was wondering if the Shinkansen from Tokyo is covered by the JR pass? You say the day costs $300 but I could only work out $100 (I’m converting 8000 yen for the taxi return ride). Is it the entry fee that’s expensive? thanks so much for your help.

  13. March 14, 2016 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    Hi, your post if extremely hopeful because we plan on going next year! your photos of the foxes are also very beautiful. I was wondering how you left to go back to the station? did you have to call a cab or was there more cabs outside the village versus when you got out of the station? thank you!

  14. March 6, 2016 at 9:25 pm — Reply

    This post was so helpful! I’m going to Japan in a few weeks and am going to make the day trip from Tokyo! It looks amazing. What month did you visit in? Also, just discovered your blog and I LOVE it!

    • March 7, 2016 at 10:32 am — Reply

      Thank you, so glad to hear! I visited in February. It was cool because there was snow on the ground, but I think any time is fun.
      Stephanie recently posted…22 Badass Jobs That Involve TravelMy Profile

  15. gwen
    February 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm — Reply

    I will visit. After the snow monkey. Is this 0lace near the zao ski ground

  16. sharon
    January 29, 2016 at 4:34 pm — Reply

    hi Stephanie
    i just stumbled upon your blog last night, and now i just cant seem to take my eyes of the wonderful pictures…
    thank you for this post! now i definitely have to visit the Zao fox village one day!!

  17. January 23, 2016 at 11:42 pm — Reply

    Adorable pictures! Thanks for the info!

    I’m planning to go to Tokyo in early spring. I’d like to visit the fox village and the cat island (Tashirojima) on the same trip as they’re both close to Sendai, maybe a 3D3N.

    Do you know if there’s an easy way (except taxi/car) to get to the Fox village from Sendai?

    Thanks again!

  18. Sonia
    December 25, 2015 at 7:28 am — Reply

    Hello!
    Loved your article! The place really sounds amazing!
    I have a quick question though: Did you notice if there were any lockers/place to store luggage in the Shiroishizao station? I’d love to go to the fox village, but my friend and I would be taking trains from Nara…and would be lugging a big suitcase XD

    • December 25, 2015 at 9:16 pm — Reply

      Hi!

      Thank you! I wasn’t looking for lockers at the time so I can’t say for sure, but most Japanese train stations all have lockers. I expect it would too since it’s a Shinkansen stop. I think at the least you can probably store you luggage at the fox farm. Hope this helps!!
      Stephanie recently posted…10 Sleep Tips for Holiday TravelersMy Profile

  19. han
    November 2, 2015 at 9:02 pm — Reply

    is there any optional transportation other than taking taxi to get there?

    • November 2, 2015 at 10:04 pm — Reply

      If you have your own car that would work, but from the train station, you need a vehicle to reach the fox village. I don’t believe there is a bus there. But it’s quite simple to get a taxi to get there from the train station. And the front desk at Fox Village calls you a taxi back when you are ready to return.
      Stephanie recently posted…10 Tips On How to Thrive NOT Survive Winter in BostonMy Profile

  20. August 2, 2015 at 5:17 am — Reply

    hi! just wondering how long you spent there? I plan on stopping by here on my way to Hakodate… just trying to plan out my day and see if I have have enough time to spend here…

    • August 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm — Reply

      Hi!

      I only spent an afternoon there, probably about 3 hours. It’s a pretty small enclosure but that was enough time for us.
      Stephanie recently posted…10 Fun Local Things to Do in Hoi An, VietnamMy Profile

      • August 2, 2015 at 10:26 pm — Reply

        awesome, thanks! is there anything else interesting to see while i’m around that area?

        • August 3, 2015 at 11:51 am — Reply

          I really didn’t explore the area around Zao all too well, however it’s very close to Fukushima and Sendai. I know Fukushima is trying to re-build its tourism since 4 years ago. If you’re interested in seeing how the earthquake affected the country, you can see a few places around there
          .
          I went to the small coastal city of Kessenuma to visit; it’s devastating to see the loss but very eye opening.

          Sendai itself is a large city too and offers some attractions like castles and temples as well.
          Stephanie recently posted…Sea of Trees: Aokigahara ‘Suicide Forest’ JapanMy Profile

      • Cati
        December 23, 2015 at 7:14 am — Reply

        what time did you get there? not sure to go in the morning or afternoon time…thanks

  21. James
    April 14, 2015 at 1:52 am — Reply

    Me and my girlfriend will be visiting the village this June! Thanks for the great blog without it we would’ve had a lot of trouble getting there!

  22. March 15, 2015 at 7:19 pm — Reply

    Wow this looks like a really lovely place for a visit. It’s awesome to see Japan through the eyes of someone who lives there and it’s on my list of places I want to visit.
    xSarah

    • March 16, 2015 at 9:28 pm — Reply

      It is! Japan is seriously the coolest country! I do hope you can make it out here someday.

  23. March 5, 2015 at 4:32 am — Reply

    There is way too much cuteness on this page!! Heart parts all over the room!

  24. Julaina Jaffar
    March 3, 2015 at 11:53 am — Reply

    SOOOO CUTEEEEEE!

    Thank you for the detailed blog post of your trip to Fox Village. LOVE IT ! LOVE IT ! I love the third picture, so fluffyyy 🙂

    As I’ll be going Japan in end of March till mid April, I was wondering if it is the place is only accessible via taxi? And I’ll be travelling alone as its my solo trip before turning 21 🙂 Also, will it be easy to get cab on the way back to the station?

    Hope you will be able to advice me on that. Thank you

    • March 3, 2015 at 7:53 pm — Reply

      Thank you!!

      This place is VERY easy to get to, especially from Tokyo. I took the Shinkansen to Shiroishizao and then once you get there, you will either have to wait for a taxi or have the small trip office outside of the train gates call one for you. Make sure that the park is open though, but it normally closes at around 4:30 though we got there around noon just to be safe.

      Since it’s not a busy station, the cabs may be scarce out front but that’s not a problem. Fox Village is the most popular destination out this way so taxis will expect you. Returning to the station is also very easy. The people who run Fox Village are really nice and will call a cab for you to return to the station while you wait inside their cafe waiting area. Probably the easiest day trip I’ve done in Japan. 🙂

  25. March 2, 2015 at 9:07 pm — Reply

    OMG THIS IS THE CUTEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!

    Phew… okay, sorry. Got a little excited there. 🙂 I LOVE foxes and these are the cutest, smiley-est, fluffiest ones ever! I can’t believe how close you can get to them. I gotta be honest and say that I’ve never had a HUGE desire to go to Tokyo (though I want to, of course), but seriously, while scrolling through these pictures, I told the boyfriend that I want to go right now!! I’m pinning this post for when I eventually make it to Japan. And I’m gonna be more budget conscious so I can save enough money to take that trip since it’s not cheap!

    • March 2, 2015 at 11:30 pm — Reply

      Yea you can get really close and they’re so friendly they don’t mind it at all. I didn’t try to pet them but I wish!! You should check out my recent post on Tokyo though. It’s seriously the coolest city I love it SO much!! But yea, Japan is super cool because it has some interesting animal parks etc like this. I hope you can make it out here to see the foxes!! Btw, if you end up coming to Japan to travel, I do have to say that foreign tourists are able to buy a Japan Rail Pass in advance. Essentially this pass covers the JR line (Shinkansen) for a set period of time like a week or more. So if you plan on doing some other traveling around Japan (like Kyoto, or further away from Tokyo), then pretty much your trip is covered in this pass. 🙂

  26. March 2, 2015 at 1:14 pm — Reply

    And I was going to ask if you can pet them, but you got me covered! Yes they are really cute and it seems a nice place to visit. As for the cutest fox I vote the one on the 3rd picture…the one that is curled up and looks like wearing a fur collar (well she actually is). As for the photo stealing I’m pretty annoyed with travel bloggers who through a bunch of photos on a post (ok sometimes with credit) to “write” about the 10/15/[insert number here] place on Europe/US/[insert country/continent] here that you have to visit, when it’s clear that they haven’t been in all these places…I think it’s better to write out of experience!

    • March 2, 2015 at 11:26 pm — Reply

      Yea, there were only just a few to pet! I wish there were more! Thanks for voting! 🙂 I think that one is in my top favorites too. But yea, I don’t mind a tumblr post or something harmless but yea, exactly what you said about throwing tons of pics on an article just in order to keep the content rolling!! It starts to lose meaning…

  27. February 27, 2015 at 2:56 am — Reply

    Oh my gosh, you weren’t kidding when you said they look like they’re smiling. SO MUCH CUTENESS! I will definitely be putting this place on the list whenever I get the chance to go to Japan!

    • March 2, 2015 at 11:16 am — Reply

      Nope. Yea, totally recommend it! Tons of cute.

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