Are You an Animal Lover? Visit These 4 Unique Animal Parks in Japan!

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  • There are many interesting and unique places to visit all across Japan. It is a beautiful country that is rich in natural resources, especially in flora and fauna. There are some unique species in Japan that you can’t see anywhere else in the world. For example, Japan’s Ogasawara Islands (小笠原諸島) are often referred to as “the Galapagos of the East” due to the number of rare species found there. Most of these animals are endangered due to increasing human contact and loss of habitat, so it is rare to find an animal park dedicated to these species. However, there are other parks for certain animals with an adequate number. Let’s delve into them a little further!

    You may have heard of Japan’s famous cat island, Tashirojima (田代島), that is infested with cats. Similarly, there is a rabbit island called Okunoshima (大久野島), where thousands of rabbits roam freely everywhere. There are monkey parks all across Japan where you can find a variety of monkeys, one of which is the famous Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑) in Nagano (長野).

    There are horse farms, cattle ranches, emu farms, fish breeding centers, and many more scattered across Japan. Apart from these naturally or commercially formed habitats, there are also parks specially formed with government support to create a protective environment for some animals.

    Here are four unique animal parks in Japan to visit if you are an animal lover. If you are not an animal lover, you can still find these places interesting because of the rarity of the creatures living here.

    1. Nasu Alpaca Farm (那須アルパカ牧場)

    Alpacas are camelids native to the South American Andes mountain range. Camelids are a group of species that include llamas, camels, and alpacas. An alpaca is basically a small llama. They are found in Ecuador, Northern Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. They are mainly reared for their fur which is used to make hats, blankets, scarves, etc. They have been domesticated by humans a long time back and are also consumed as food in the Andean region.

    Alpacas are completely new to Japan. It is only until the late ’90s that these animals were brought to the country on a chartered plane from Peru to Nasu of Tochigi (栃木) Prefecture. Alpacas live in high-altitude grassland areas with relatively low temperatures. Nasu is located right amidst volcanoes and is famous for its hot springs and highlands. Although summers in Japan are slightly unbearable for alpacas, the Nasu area is still the best place for them to survive. With an altitude that is 1,000 meters above sea level, this place is very cool and beautiful.

    If you want to see these rare animals, you must visit the Nasu Plateau located northeast of Tokyo (東京). In fact, the alpaca farm in Nasu is the largest one in entire Japan. The population of alpacas has doubled since they were brought in. You can see different types of alpacas posing with visitors for photographs in the farm. Although alpacas are friendly creatures, they get easily annoyed and they usually spit if they are angry.

    Do not miss the opportunity to visit the 25,000-square-meter alpaca farm in the town of Nasu. Many Japanese people are slowly getting to know about this rare animal. These alpacas are being shown on TV and on YouTube for Japanese people to be familiar with. Due to their increasing popularity among local tourists, there are new farms being opened up.

    Nasu Alpaca Farm Website *Japanese only

    2. Capybara Hot Springs (カピバラ温泉) at Izu Shaboten Zoo (伊豆シャボテン動物公園)

    In Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県) of Eastern Izu (伊豆) lies the small city of Ito where a Mexican themed shaboten (Japanese for “cactus”) park is located. Famous for its natural hot springs, the Izu area attracts thousands of visitors every month. These hot springs also attract wildlife such as monkeys in the winter. There is one custom-made hot spring that is considered special in the park due to the rare species that likes to soak in here. It is the capybara, the world’s largest rodent.

    Capybaras also come from South America and are not native to Japan. These are friendly vegetarian mammals that usually live in deep forests and savannas near rivers or ponds. These are larger than guinea pigs but way more agile than expected. They can run as fast as a healthy wild horse. They can also swim underwater by holding their breath for up to five minutes. Countries like Venezuela have many capybara farms where they are grazed for meat.

    Although not endangered, capybaras face a serious existential problem due to illegal hunting. Because of their friendliness, many people make them as pets, especially in America. They are adaptive to different climates and allow humans to touch them. However, it is not a good idea to kiss them or take them closer as some may cause viral infections. Japan had never seen these creatures before until they were brought from South America a few decades back.

    The Capybara Onsen at Izu Shaboten Zoo is attracting hundreds of visitors every week. You can actually swim along with the capybaras in the onsen. You can pet them and take pictures with them. Since they feed on grass, you can actually buy some and feed them. Winter in Japan is the best time to soak in the Capybara Onsen. There are many other animals and birds in the zoo besides capybaras. Located on the beautiful footsteps of Mt. Omuro (大室山), the Izu Shaboten Zoo is a must-visit for nature lovers.

    Izu Shaboten Zoo Website *Japanese only

    3. Kandachime Farm of Shiriya

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    尻屋崎の寒立馬と釜臥山 (青森県東通村尻屋) 尻屋崎の馬ッ子達です🐴. 彼らに会うのは3回目ですが、 いつも大人しく優しい目をして迎えてくれます 今回はお食事中だったらしくムシャムシャと 必死に草をほおばっておりましたぁ🙂 近づいていっても全く動じることもなく 大人しくジーッと見つめてくれてますので👀、 可愛くて鼻面をナデナデしてしまいました🤗 その昔、まだ祖父👴が健在のころ、 母屋の建物の端に大きな馬小屋があって、 馬ッ子と遊んだのが🐎懐かしい思い出です。 祖父が若い頃には使役馬として馬車で 街まで出掛けたり、荷物を運んだりと、 一生懸命働いてくれたことを よく聞かされました。 その馬達が天寿を全うし、 また、クルマ社会が全盛となった時分でも 祖父はどこからか馬ッ子を買ってきて とっても大切にしていた様子が よみがえります😢 pic1 写真中央の奥にうっすら見えるのが 釜臥山です⛰️ . . . #寒立馬 #馬ッ子 #馬っ子 #農耕馬 #釜臥山 #尻屋崎灯台 #青森県東通村尻屋 #青森県 #青森 #下北半島 #下北 #尻屋崎 #尻屋 #行くぜ東北 #秋の東北 #東北旅行

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    The Kandachime is a group of wild horses that live in the harsh weather of Cape Shiriya (尻屋崎) in Aomori Prefecture (青森県). It is amazing to see these horses stay in cold weather in winters withstanding record low temperatures. The Shiriya area has a couple of Kandachime horse farms where they are left in the wilderness. Although these are wild animals, they are extremely friendly. They occasionally come near tourists and let them feed them carrots. There is no best time to visit these horses as you can see them roam all year round, especially on the farm near Cape Shiriya Lighthouse.

    The main breed of horse you would see here is the Dosanko (道産子) breed. Dosanko horses are native to the Tohoku (東北) region of Northern Honshu (本州) and Hokkaido (北海道). These are one of the rarest and most beautiful horse breeds in the world. Depicted in limelight throughout Japanese war history, Dosanko horses are a symbol of royalty and the way of life of people in Hokkaido. Sometimes, the people of Hokkaido are called as “Dosanko” because of this.

    Kandachime Farm of Shiriya Website *Automatic translation available

    4. Zao Fox Village (蔵王キツネ村)

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    【宮城県 ほっこり心温まる旅】 大自然の中で戯れるキツネに出会える「蔵王キツネ村」。放し飼いにされたかわいいキツネとのふれあいや餌付けが体験できます。 ランチには白石市の郷土料理「温麺(うーめん)」を。油を使わずに小麦粉と塩水で作られた麺の優しい味わいを楽しんでください。 旅の疲れを癒すなら県内有数の温泉地「遠刈田(とおがった)温泉」へ。茶褐色の熱めのお湯は神経痛・筋肉痛・関節痛に効果があると評判ですよ♪ 今回の投稿には @lanna_iketani さん、 @nknkdnn29 さん、@harukaaa0811 さんの素敵なお写真を使わせていただきました♪ ・ JR東日本の「行くぜ、東北。」公式アカウントです。 皆さまの素敵なお写真と一緒に、東北の“冬のごほうび“が楽しめる旅をご紹介中!東北旅行の参考にしてみてください! また、皆さまもぜひ「#行くぜ東北」をつけて東北のお写真を投稿してくださいね♫ ご投稿いただいた素敵な写真は、一部当アカウントにてご紹介させていただきます! ・ #行くぜ東北 #冬のごほうび #JR東日本 #新幹線 #東北旅行 #日本 #japan #東北 #tohoku #旅行 #電車旅 #旅行好きな人と繋がりたい #旅好きな人と繋がりたい #宮城県 #宮城 #宮城旅行 #miyagi #蔵王キツネ村 #キツネ村 #きつね #麺 #温麺 #うーめん #白石うーめん #ご当地グルメ #郷土料理 #遠刈田温泉 #温泉 #温泉旅行

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    Mt. Zao (蔵王山), located between Miyagi (宮城) and Yamagata (山形), is known for its snow-capped fig trees, ski slopes, and beautiful lakes. The Fox Village in Zao is one among the few fox sanctuaries in the world. Usually, one gets to see foxes in zoos or in the wild. However, hundreds of different breeds of foxes are chilling at this village. Designed to be more like a park, this place is visited by both local and foreign tourists all year round.

    There is an Inari shrine (稲荷神社) at this village which is the reason for the creation of the Fox Village. Foxes are considered auspicious apart from being labeled as clever and cunning creatures in Japan. You can find fox iconography at most of the Inari shrines across the country. Although foxes are dangerous creatures, you can actually feed them at the Zao Fox Village. Foxes here are bred, too, with the help of conservationists.

    Zao Fox Village Website

    These are just some of the unique animal parks in Japan for you and your family to visit. All these parks are located amidst nature and are open to the public all year round. If you are looking for a calm adventure or a picnic in the middle of nature, you should definitely pay a visit to these places. Also, if you are bored of routinary owl and cat cafes, take a backpack and proceed to these four amazingly interesting parks to spend time with special creatures.

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