Kitsunemura, 蔵王キツネ村 or Fox Village near Zao in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan is now world famous thanks to bloggers, so naturally it was on the top of our Japan bucket list when we learned we were moving here.
Mainland Japan has 4 seasons, the best being fall and spring. Summer is hot and humid. Winter is okay, but I don’t particularly like being cold.
For us, a well-timed trip is key to our overall experience. Making the journey only to find that you’re either too early or too late to see the seasonal flowers or trees kind of puts a damper on the trip’s mood, so I’ve been faithfully checking the foliage reports in Miyagi and Twitter posts from that area for the past month to see what the trees looked like.
I finally found a US holiday that aligned with the foliage up north’s schedule (the leaves turn later the farther south you go), so we took the
opportunity and went.
We decided to drive, which was about 3.5 hours and cost 8212 yen going there, and 7630 yen coming back on the toll roads.
If you decide to take the shinkansen it will be much more expensive, but that’s up to you. You’ll need to arrive at Shiroishizao Station and take a cab to the village. Just spend a few minutes googling and you’ll find several articles that provide detailed instructions on how to get there by train.
With only a week’s notice, I was fortunate enough to find a very nice, reasonably priced ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with an in-room hot spring and included breakfast, which allowed for my husband and I to enjoy onsen together.
The breakfast at the ryokan was delicious, the onsen made our skin feel unbelievably smooth, and the crisp mountain air made for a refreshing break from our fast-paced Tokyo lives.
I wish we could have stayed longer. Or that we could go every month. Or.. just live there.
The staff members at both the ryokan and the fox village were very kind and accommodating. Granted, we communicated in elementary Japanese, so I can’t speak to how well they could assist foreigner guests.
I’m not sure about the hotel, but I know that kitsunemura has seen many, many foreign guests over the years.
If you speak zero Japanese, just be prepared to try to use hand gestures, writing, or however else you can think of to communicate if you find that the staff member you meet doesn’t speak or understand much English.
Kitsunemura has over 100 wild foxes living in a large, open space with plenty of room to hide, play, eat, and sleep. They also have a small petting zoo with lots of rabbits, some minature horses, a few crows (?), guinea pigs, and small goats.
There has been some visitors who felt the animals were not well taken care of, but when I was there clean water was abundant, the animals all looked happy and those who were awake were curious, wild, and playful with one another.
I feel like the staff at kitsunemura aim to take excellent care of all of their animals. and I was pleased with the experience.
Overall… 10/10. We both really enjoyed the ryokan and onsen, and who couldn’t enjoy watching wild foxes play and lounge in a large, natural habitat?
The logistics, you ask?
Total run down:
Tolls: 15,842 yen. About 3.5 hour drive from northwest Tokyo.
Gas: ~ 8,000 yen
Hotel: ~21,000 yen
Kitsunemura: 2,000 yen + 400 yen fox cuddle experience
Omiyage (souvenirs): 1,500 yen
Meals/road trip snacks: ~4,000
And now, for adorable kitsune (fox) pictures! (mix of iphone and dlsr that my husband and I took)
Just click the thumbnail to view the full image.