After spending a few days at home recovering from my jetlag, my friends asked me to go to Sendai for a little road trip! Sendai is in the Miyagi prefecture, so it was around a 2 and a half hour drive from our town. My friends also wanted to visit the Miyagi Zao fox village on the way to Sendai.
I honestly had no idea what to expect with the fox village. I’ve never actually seen a real life fox before, and I knew that the fox village had an open area with hundreds of foxes roaming around. I was pretty nervous…
When we arrived at the ticket counter, we were given a sheet written in English outlining all the regulations of what and what not to do whilst inside. This included not touching any plastic bags whilst near a fox, as they would detect it as food and would probably grab it from you. They also emphasised that foxes can bite, and there was a chance that they could ‘piss on you’. Gulp.
Upon entering the fox village I actually jumped a little when I saw this fox sleeping. I was surprised to see them chained up, and the chains were very short. As I looked around I saw other foxes chained up to walls, and goats chained up too. It was pretty upsetting to see. I’m not a huge fan of zoos and seeing animals caged and chained up. There were some foxes which were placed in a cage alone and there was no space for them to move around at all. Some of them looked incredibly sad.
There were other foxes placed in big cages which weren’t chained up and had more space to move around in. Most of them were sleeping! I’m guessing these foxes needed protecting or were best separated from the other foxes due to behavioural problems.
Then there was the moment we had been waiting for. Entering the open fox area. I was terrified, and the sign on the door didn’t really help calm myself. I warned my friend in advance that there was a chance I would use them as a human shield.
It was terrifying walking around this open park with foxes just a few feet away from me, some sleeping and some walking and staring for food. I think I was the only person in the entire park who was on total edge. Japanese people find foxes very kawaii! I think I was scared because I had never really encountered a fox before, and I had a fear that they would suddenly pounce on me and eat me alive.
To feed the foxes we had to feed them from a deck, and we weren’t allowed to approach a fox and feed it up close. I’ve never really heard foxes make noises before, they have a very peculiar sound! Almost like a woman screaming.
After visiting the fox village, we continued our drive to Sendai. Driving into Sendai was quite cool, as our car stopped by a huge pedestrian crossing which kind of reminded me the famous pedestrian crossing in Shibuya (but obviously not as big!). I was surprised at how big the city was, and it seemed like a mini Tokyo. Whilst we drove through the city looking for a place to park, we found a huge sign advertising the Pokemon Centre (one of the main reasons why I was so excited to visit Sendai!).
The first place we visited was the Pokemon centre since the building was nearby where we had parked. It was a lot smaller than the Pokemon Centre in Tokyo, but it was still worth visiting!
The city of Sendai itself was really cool. A lot of shopping centres and stores! Sendai is famously known for its beef tongue (gyuu tan), which I didn’t get a chance to try, but there were beef tongue restaurants all across the city!
I was also surprised to see my first ever British pub in Japan serving fish and chips!
After walking around in the city and having lunch, we decided to visit the Zuihoden Mausoleum of Date Masamune, one of the most powerful feudal lords of the Edo Period.
The mausoleum was really interesting, and we visited a small museum inside which had the bones and hair remains of Date Masamune. The woodwork on the actual Zuihoden was really impressive. This place was destroyed in a fire during the Second World War, but was rebuilt in the 1970s. These buildings are an example of Momoyama style architecture.
Since the place was destroyed in a fire during the war, I’m guessing that the relics below are the only surviving pieces from the original structure. I could be wrong! But the dragon below is what can be seen on all four corners of the roof of the structure.
We then walked into a different area and came across the Zennodens at the back of the Zuihoden complex.
The Zennodens are the resting places of the former successors of Date Masamume. Just walking through the complex was really impressive. It was almost like walking through some sort of enchanted forest. This peaceful area was a huge contrast to the huge city we were in just moments earlier. The area was surrounded by huge cedar trees, which are supposed to symbolise the long history of the Edo Period.
That’s all for now! Hope you guys have a great week!