There's a Fox Village in Miyagi Prefecture! I was looking forward to visiting this attraction. From Sendai we took the JR to Shiroishi Station where we disembarked and hired a taxi to drive us up the mountain.
For some unknown reason a huge gorilla statue stands outside the Fox Village. Once past this oddity we paid the admission fee, and an employee stated several rules: your feet must be covered, do not touch the foxes, and keep the fox treats (available for purchase) hidden in your pockets. Even though I do not speak Japanese, her gestures were very clear.
Full of anticipation, we passed through the entrance and we began to see foxes immediately, in an assortment of colors - white, black, and auburn. The majority were adults, but being springtime, there were tons of BABIES! For a small fee, you were allowed to hold one. Did you hear what I said? You can HOLD a baby fox! So we did, and the attendant took some pictures for us.
Cuddling a fox kit felt a bit like handling a puppy, except it seemed as if the kits were (understandably) nervous. I mean, why is this doofus touching me? I don't like it. They knew as well as we did that they were not meant to be held. The only halfway plausible explanation I could think of (besides generating yen) was that the kits would lose their fear of humans. When the attendant returned the kits to their cage, they appeared relieved.
Separate from the foxes were some farm animals: two miniature horses, lots of rabbits, and some charming goats. A worker was raking their pen and he yelled at a goat to get out of the hay box (where he looked adorable), and the goat slowly complied. Also present in a nearby cage were two crows and they blinked their eyes, watching us while we took pictures. One of the crows steadily manipulated a wire attached to the cage door. I predict an eventual break out.
For the foxes there was a much larger outdoor area surrounded by a tall fence. As we walked through this area, the foxes went about their daily activities - playing, sleeping, fighting, and screaming angrily. I had no inkling that foxes made that sound. Sometimes a fox would approach us and stare.
I suspect more than a few knew I was packing treats. As we climbed up on the observation platform the foxes hurried over and sat below. I broke off pieces of the treats (which looked a lot like Slim Jims) and tossed them down. Expertly, nearly every fox caught the morsels midair.
I must admit, as intriguing as this place is, a few other things bothered me. I didn't like seeing the fox on a leash attached to a pole. He walked around and around, trying to find a way to escape. I was upset to see two foxes in separate, stark wire cages with nothing of comfort. Since they were healthy, why weren't they loose with the others, but on display like this? For their sake, I hope they were freed at the end of the work day.
The day we visited was pretty cold (to us) at 10 degrees Celsius, and this was compounded by a powerful wind that thundered through the trees. Maybe this is just May in the mountains and as summer approaches the weather will be milder. But I thought you should know.
The Zao Fox Village has a gift shop and a small restaurant. We waited there while an employee called us a taxi for the drive back to the station. I think the Zao Fox Village is worth a visit. Seeing the foxes was definitely a rare experience and I was not disappointed.
Zao Fox Village
Miyagi Prefecture 989-0733
Tel: 0224 24 8812
A visit to Zao Fox Village can be combined with seeing Shiroishi Castle in Shiroishi town.
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