When visiting Japan, you may notice there is a particular fondness for animals. You can see it in the cute mascots, the many animal-themed cafes, and in the many shops just for adorable pet clothes and supplies. Do not let the crowded cities lead you astray. If you are an animal lover, Japan can be a paradise if you know where to look.
In our research, we have tried to avoid places known for poor animal welfare. Be sure to commit to similar research, so you do not give money to an organization that does not treat its animals well.
10 Nara Park
There is some fun history as to why Nara Park is filled with so many tame sika deer. Long ago, folklore about a god called Takemikazuchi-no-Mikoto includes a story where the god rode on a white deer to nearby shrines in the prefecture. That story made all deer in those areas sacred to the point where killing one was punishable by death until the 1600s.
Now instead of having a divine status, the deer are considered national treasures. Today you can visit them and feed them deer crackers. Many have even been taught to bow back to you if you bow to them.
Kaiyukan is an aquarium that is famous for its whale sharks. Whale sharks are huge animals, so Kaiyukan is one of the aquariums with the largest tanks in the world. The tank is so big that there are multiple floors and hallways surrounding it, so you definitely will get a lot of chances to see the sharks.
Besides the sharks, they have tons of other exhibits from jellyfish to sea lions to otters. The aquarium is even next to a large mall with a huge Ferris Wheel.
8 Arashiyama Monkey Park
Arashiyama is known as a historic district of Kyoto with scenic beauty such as its bamboo forest and the fall season when the leaves on the mountains change colors. Besides those aspects though, there is also a monkey park. It's a small hike up a mountain and you'll be surrounded by monkeys in no time.
For the monkeys and your safety, there are strict rules and signs all around. However, if you want to feed them, you can go into a cage where you can buy food and feed them through the wire windows.
7 Machida Squirrel Garden
Yes, a zoo dedicated to squirrels. Depending on where you live, squirrels can be pretty common in your own backyard. However, in Japan, they are less seen.
The squirrels of the Machida Squirrel Garden are free-roaming and not afraid to come to you and eat nuts and seeds from your hands. They also have many woodpiles and houses to play around, climb, and hide inside. While the animals are definitely cute, their houses are also adorably painted with various designs
Also known as "Rabbit Island," this place is filled with hundreds of tame rabbits that you can visit and feed. While known for its furry inhabitants, the island is also a famous location for being a secret chemical weapons facility. However, after the end of World War II, the facility was shut and all poisonous gases were buried, dumped, or burned. So if you somehow get bored with the many friendly rabbits, you can always pay a visit to the Poison Gas Museum.
The rabbits came after some were intentionally set loose after WWII. Hunting them is forbidden and they have no natural predators. There are definitely too many of them with not enough resources on the island, so hopefully, the Japanese government will consider neutering them to control the population.
5 Tsukuba Wan Wan Land
This is a paradise for dog lovers. This huge property contains about 400 dogs and you are even allowed to bring your own to come to play. It's basically a giant park full of dogs you can play with. They also have organized events that you and your dog can take part in. There are also shows where staff and their dogs do tricks together on a stage.
If you get overwhelmed by the dogs, there are also some houses that are cats-only.
4 Nasu Alpaca Farm
Due to how cute they are, alpacas are popular in Japan. This location is the largest alpaca farm in the country. The farm covers about six miles and has approximately 400 alpacas living freely. You can feed them, walk around with them, and pet them.
The farm started in 1999 with 200 alpacas that came to Japan via a plane ride from the Andes. With a lot of time and help from various veterinarians, the farm is a very ethical and successful alpaca zoo.
3 Izu Shaboten Zoo
This is not your average zoo, as most of the animals are free-roaming. It's also most famous for its capybara onsen, where the giant rodents get to bathe and relax in hot baths during the winter. Due to that, unlike most zoos, this place is best to visit in the winter just to see the rare sight!
You can also feed and touch many of the animals. Besides capybaras, there are parrots, llamas, boars, pigs, guinea pigs, meerkats, and more.
2 Kakegawa Kachoen
This theme park is all about flowers and birds. It's beautiful, and the birds are able to freely fly from one exhibit to another. Like many other places on this list, you can also purchase foods and feed the animals here. There are also live performances that show how smart some of these birds really are.
The location is gorgeous for photos. If you are lucky, a bird might even land on you!
1 Nishikigoi Village
Koi have always been a highlight of Japanese traditional culture. In Japan, they are symbols of fortune, luck, and strength. They can be seen in various places, but they are particularly well taken care of at this destination. There is a viewing aquarium as well as a garden pond. You can feed the fish, and the place is open all year so you can even watch them under frozen water.