Foxes have never looked so cute than at the Zao Fox Village in Japan’s mountainous Miyagi prefecture. In this forest preserve, over a hundred foxes (six different species) are free to roam and play as they please. While in London, foxes are cautious creatures, preferring to shy away from humans, many of the foxes here are curious and will follow people round as they wander through the sanctuary. For an extra 100 yen, visitors are allowed to feed the animals, but are advised not to do this by hand due to their wild nature. They look cute, but will still bite.
Arguably the cutest animal island on earth. Okunoshima or Rabbit Island is situated in the East Sea of Japan. Here, hundreds of semi-wild rabbits roam free and are fearless of humans and arriving visitors are mobbed (in a good way) by bounding herds of playful bunnies. Rabbits are not native to the island, and their appearance is a mystery. Some believe it they were brought in the 1930s during the islands darker history when it was used to secretly produce poison gas.
During the winter the mountains in central Japan freeze over forming a harsh ‘Narnia’ type landscape of snow and ice. Here in the forests of Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley) a troop of 200 Japanese macaques have found a particularly human-like way to keep warm through the chilly months – bathe in hot springs. Each day after their nightly slumber in the trees they descend on Jigokudani Yaen Koen Park’s onsen (Japanese hot spring) where they spend their days relaxing in the warm water, preening each other, occasionally wrestling and generally having a pretty good time.
Aoshima is a tiny island just off the mainland and is home to 15 people and hundreds of cats. The population of the island grew during WWII when people fled for a safer life. The island hit a peak of 655 people in 1960, but then slowly declined as people returned for jobs. As people left, the cat population grew. With no cars or predators and just enough humans to provide food, the feline population thrived and the island has now become somewhat of a tourism destination. Tashirojima Island is another small island where the cat population outnumber the resident humans.
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