4 of the cutest animal spots to visit in Japan

lots and lots of cats

Cats! So many cats. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Do you watch hours and hours of adorable animal videos? Does petting furry tummies make you squeal with joy?

In Japan, there are special places where visitors can go to spend a whole day with hundreds of animals. Yes, you read that right. Hundreds.

Here are the top four post-pandemic destinations for the animal-lover in you:

1. Ōkunoshima — Rabbit Island

Two young girls surrounded by dozens of bunnies.
Young girls sit in a sea of rabbits. (Chris McGrath/Getty)

This island off the coast of Hiroshima is home to about 1,000 wild and fluffy rabbits, earning it the nickname ‘Rabbit Island.’ The rabbits are tame and will often come right up to you, so if you go for a visit, be sure to fill your pockets with plenty of rabbit-friendly treats!

2. Miyajima — Deer Island

Four deer on a stroll near a beach.
Four deer go for a stroll on the beach (Eriko Sugita ES/Reuters)

This small island off the coast of Hiroshima is best known for its world-famous Shinto shrine, but it’s also home to hundreds of friendly deer. Tourists are cautioned not to feed the deer, but be careful — they’re going to try their best to get something tasty off you, even if it’s your map or the straps on your backpack!

3. Aoshima — Cat Island

Dozens of cats of all colours stare at the camera.
There are so many cats of all colours, shapes and sizes! (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

One of about a dozen ‘cat islands’ in Japan, cats on Aoshima outnumber the human population! About 100 cats roam the streets of this tiny former fishing village, so if you go for a visit, be respectful and follow the rules of the island — only feed the cats in designated areas and no littering!

4. Jigokudani Monkey Park

Monkeys enjoy a steam bath together.
Macaque monkeys enjoy a steam bath together. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Stringer)

Located in the forests of Jigokudani valley, Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe wild Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) in their natural habitat. In the winter, the monkeys head to the park’s natural hot spring to take a hot soak. Don’t try to touch or feed them — just sit back and enjoy the show!