If you have a passion for animals and are trying to determine where to jet off to for your next vacation, look no further! Japan is a great destination for animal lovers who are up for the long flight. According to Tourist Japan, a leading tourism information website, these are some of the country’s points of interest for animal lovers who are visiting and searching for ethical choices:
Cat Cafe Nekoen Asakusa
While there are many, many cat cafes to choose from, ensuring the cafe is ethical and humane is important. Most take good care of their cats and kittens, but Nekoen is notably a good choice. The cafe is in the historic district of Asakusa, and it is easily one of the most inviting and warm spaces filled with cute and friendly cats. The fact that the cats are all rescued is unique and makes the space even more special and meaningful, knowing that they are being saved and their lives have drastically improved. The owner is very kind, speaks English and welcomes everyone with a smile. Shoes are not permitted; only socks, which can be purchased at the cafe.
Jigokundani Monkey Park
Found in the northern region of Japan in Nagano, the Macaque monkeys roam the snowy area, enjoying the many natural hot springs in the Jigokundai Monkey Park. While there are some elements in place to protect the monkeys and keep them safe from human involvement, the monkeys are friendly and approachable. This is a unique experience to visit and interact with the monkeys as they relax in the hot, steamy water. Hundreds of wild monkeys roam within the park, making it the perfect place for animal lovers.
The island of Okunoshima actually has a rather tragic past as it was once the location of many poisonous gas factories during WWII. Nowadays, the island is filled with furry, frolicking rabbits that inhabit the land. Visitors are welcome to feed the bunnies; they must provide their own food—most often lettuce or carrots—but there is also a place to purchase rabbit food. Although the island has a sad history, it is now a safe haven for these cute bunnies to roam and enjoy open green space and quiet.
Nara Deer Park
Deer are beautiful animals that are actually symbolic in Japanese culture and mythology as they are considered a treasure, a national gem, and protected accordingly. Nara Park is a precious example of deer in their natural habitat—protected from any external threats. Visitors can explore the park, enjoy the tranquility, natural beauty and interact with the deer. Deer will roam freely, and for those visitors who purchase designated food, they can feed the deer.
These are just a few choices for animal lovers in Japan. Wherever you decide to go, Tourist Japan emphasizes the importance of doing your homework. While it is easy to visit other destinations in Japan, from cafes to zoos, it is important to research first to ensure that the animals in the facility are treated humanely, and if not, reach out to the organizations that serve to protect the animals. It can be somewhat heartbreaking and bittersweet to see animals in captivity that may be mistreated; the importance of spreading awareness and education is vital.
Travel destination descriptions and images were provided by Tourist Japan.