Welcome to “Zao Fox Village,” otherwise known as frolicking fox heaven. Doesn’t that sound like something out of Snow White?
The sanctuary is located in Miyagi Prefecture and opened in 1990. It’s home to over 100 foxes of all shapes and sizes and fur colors. There are the normal red foxes in addition to silver foxes and platinum foxes.
As Japan Travel explains, you buy fox food for 100 yen (less than a dollar), but the park doesn’t recommend feeding the animals by hand. Also, this might not be the best place to take small children, because, as cute as foxes are, they’re still wild animals and not really kid-friendly.
Visitors can get quite close to the animals, which have free reign of the sanctuary. But once again, it’s not recommend that you try to pet the animals. Although, it is incredibly tempting.
Fox, or Kitsune, are a common subject in Japanese folklore. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shape shift into women (does that mean I can shape shift into a fox?!?!). They’re said to develop up to nine tails and the more tails they have, the older, wiser, and more powrful they are.
Religiously speaking, foxes are considered messengers of Inari, the Shinto deity of wealth, prosperity, and rice. There is even a Shinto shrine to Inari at the Zao Fox Village.
Well, guess this will be my next stop after visiting the swimming pigs of the Bahamas!