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6 Places to Visit in Japan with your Dog

Many places in Japan are dog-friendly, however, the majority of these places accommodate dogs that fit inside crates or buggies, or can be picked up and carried. Rocky’s not a particularly large dog at 18kg but she’s not one to sit calmly in a stroller either and prefers to stay firmly grounded on all paws. Below, we break down Japan's prefectures, our route and some of the sightseeing spots we found welcomed dogs above the size of 10kg without the need for any crates. Enjoy!


Japan's Prefectures

Japan is broken up into 47 prefectures (or regions) as demonstrated below.



Dogs in Japan

Though smaller dogs seem far more popular in the cities it’s also very 'do-able' to travel around Japan with your 'tong gau' (i.e. Hong Kong mongrel) and meet larger pups. We’ve met a few 'ho go ken' rescue mongrels at dog runs and have heard lovely stories about how


owners adopted their 'wan chan' mutts. Rocky is described as a 'zashun inu' mixed dog in Japan. So far everyone has been calm and kind when approaching Rocky, which is really helping to acclimate her to passing people and new environments when on the move every day.


For our first leg of road-tripping we started in Tokyo (13), headed up to Niigata (15) in search of snow and wiggled down through the northern regions of Chubu and Kinki, across to Hiroshima (34) where we visited dog shelter Peace Wanko and then ended on Shikoku Island with a couple hours of volunteering at Tokushima Heart shelter


Speaking to new furiends at the dog park we learned that Shikoku is known for having more stray dogs than other regions in Japan. The island is also known for its own native Japanese dog breed, the Shikoku Ken (“ken” meaning dog). The others are Shiba Inu, Akita Ken, Hokkaidō Ken, Kai Ken, and Kishū Ken.


6 Places to Visit in Japan with your Dog

Niigata (15) - Kiyotsu Gorge


Kiyotsu Gorge is located along the Kiyotsu River with a total length is 12.5 km. It is regarded as one of the three major canyons in Japan, and this particular spot has stunning tunnels of art installations and lookout points to this natural wonder. We arrived at opening time (8:30am) and enjoyed wandering around the tunnels away from the crowds. The washroom at Platform 2 has a funky view and the gift shop’s foot-bath is known for its cool design, although dogs aren’t allowed inside this section.

Kiyotsu Gorge, Nigata Cost: Free entry for dogs!

Best time to visit: All year round

Tokyo (13) - Mount Mitake



Take a pet-friendly cable car ride up to a dog-loving shrine at Mount Mitake. The shrine celebrates the dogs' ancestral ties to a wolf that once saved the life of a prince in these woods. The well signposted mountain trails lead to a rock garden, numerous waterfalls, as well as longer hiking routes to neighbouring peaks.

Tip: Check the cable car timetable and make sure you know when the last ride back down is otherwise it’s quite a long walk back in the dark!


Cost: ¥350 for a dog ticket Best time to visit: Autumn or Spring for drier mountain walks




Nagano (20) - Kurohime Kogen Snow Park



Kurohime Kogen Snow Park is a family-friendly snow park with a ski run that welcomes dogs! Dogs may accompany you on the ski lift and join you on the slope during the winter season. In the summer it becomes a big playground for pups with dog-friendly cafes, pet-inclusive activities and a social dog run.

Definitely a must see for travelling pups!


Kurohime Kogen Snow Park, Nagano Cost: ¥500 per dog Best time to visit: Summer



Gifu (21) - Ainokura & Shirakawa UNESCO World Heritage Sites


Enjoy a gentle stroll around a heritage neighbourhood of Gassho-style farmhouses. These large houses with their steep thatched roofs are the only ones of its kind in Japan. One resident was quoted as saying “To live in the steep mountains is to live in Paradise on Earth”.

Tip: Get there before 9:30am so your pup can enjoy a more relaxed experience before the tour buses arrive!

Cost: Both offer free entry for pups and people, but parking will cost you Best time to visit: Best seen during the peak of Summer or Winter




Fukui (18) - Rainbow Line Observatory & Wakasa Terrace


"The Rainbow Line is an 11.2 km-long scenic toll road stretching from Mihamacho-Sasada to Wakasacho-Umiyama via Mt. Baijodake." You can ride the Mikata Goto Lift Cable Car— pups under 10kg can be carried in your arms, whereas dogs between 10 to 15kg need to be in a crate (bring your own or borrow one of theirs but they are best fitted for small and heavier-built dogs no larger than a Shiba — a definite no for Rocky’s legs). Those larger than 15kg have to skip the lift and take a short and easy walk up instead. At the top, enjoy stunning views of Mikata’s “Five Lakes” along Wakasa Bay, a foot bath, plenty of beautiful viewpoints and outdoor seats. Rainbow Line Observatory & Wakasa Terrace, Fukui

Cost: Free entry for dogs! Best time to visit: Spring or Summer



Hiroshima (34) - Kousanji Temple & The Hill of Hope


The Kousanji Temple is our favourite temple so far because it’s so beautifully restored with incredibly intricately painted details and vibrant colours. If you arrive just before closing time at 5pm, you can wander the grounds peacefully up to The Hill of Hope marble landscape designed by Hiroshima-born artist Itto Kuetani, just in time for sunset.

Cost: Free entry for dogs! Best time to visit: Spring and Autumn for cooler strolls





We hope you enjoyed this list of spots to visit with your dogs in Japan! Stay tuned for more tips on how to travel in Japan with your pup.


Love,



Philippa & Rocky.

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