Japan is known for many things, for its traditional culture, for its food, for its abundant powder snow, and for being the home of truly ‘kawaii’ (cute) stuff! We are diving right into the big wide world of kawaii and we are starting with the animals in Japan, because in true Japanese fashion, they too are all super kawaii!
There are many animals in Japan, both native to the land and those that were brought through trade – to list them all would be a very long post so we are going to start with the top 5 most kawaii native Japanese animals!
Though similar looking to racoons and badgers, the Tanuki are actually a type of dog, often described as a racoon dog. They are native to Japan (as well as other parts of Asia and Russia) and are quite an iconic character in Japanese folklore and myths. They are said to have shape-shifting capabilities, often tricking people by taking a human form. You can find wild Tanuki even in the suburbs of Japan. As you go into the more regional parts you’ll even find Tanuki road signs like the one below.
Japanese deers, known as Sika deers in Japanese are native to Japan. The lithe bodied, delicate creatures have the cutest faces and can be found in the wild in places like Hokkaido as well as in more urban areas. Sika deers in places like Nara or in Miyajima in Hiroshima like to roam the streets greeting and entertaining both the locals and visitors alike.
3. JAPANESE BOBTAIL
Who doesn’t love a cute cat? Japan has its own breed of cats, including the Japanese Bobtail! They are called ‘Mi-keh-neko’ because their coat features three colours (white, black and ginger) and mi-keh means three types of fur/hair. But the most kawaii thing about them are their pompom shaped tails. As in the west there’s typical dog names like ‘Rex’, in Japan, the typical cat name is ‘Tama’ because ‘tama’ means ball – like their round ball shaped tails!
4. SNOW MONKEY
Those who go to Japan for the snow reason would know all about snow monkeys. These monkey are Japanese Macaque, however because of they inhabit colder climates, usually in the northern part of Japan, they have come to be known as snow monkeys. They love to bathe in hot springs, and you can actually go see this at Jigokudani Yaen-Koen Monkey Park in Nagano.
5. JAPANESE SQUIRREL
Found all across Honshu (main island), Kyushu and Shikoku are the Japanese Squirrel! They are small, brown and adorable looking and are often found busily climbing up and down trees in woodlands. Their bushy tails bounce behind them as they move around in search for nuts and seeds to eat. You can go to see these adorable creatures at Squirrel parks known as ‘Risu-en’ all across Japan, there’s even some in Tokyo!
We’ll be back with more kawaii animals and kawaii stuff so watch this space!
In the mean time, keep up to date with all Kawaii animal news and more on our Instagram @gdayjapan – be sure to tag us with #GDayJapan for your chance to be featured on our feed.
Cover image by Julia Wimmerlin