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The 10 Most Adorable Japanese Animals Ever!

I'm an experienced blogger. I started out reviewing anime but since then I've broadened my range of topics.

The red panda, seen here, is the inspiration for the main character Retsuko in the Netflix anime  'Aggretsuko'.

The red panda, seen here, is the inspiration for the main character Retsuko in the Netflix anime 'Aggretsuko'.

Japanese artists have created many iconic and cute fictional characters based on animals native to Japan. The Harvest Moon games introduced me to some of their more usual creatures, such as wild boars and squirrels. So while Australia is a country where every native species will probably kill you, Japan seems like a country where every native species looks like it wants a hug.

However, always remember that when traveling, wild animals are still wild animals, no matter how cute they might be. Always approach them with caution, and remember that it's not usually a good idea to feed them. These animals are best left alone.

With that out of the way so I don't get sued, here are my 10 favorite cute Japanese wild critters!

These monkeys are famous for bathing in hot springs.

These monkeys are famous for bathing in hot springs.

10. Snow Monkey

Up in the mountainous ski resort areas of Japan, snow monkeys, also known as Japanese macaques, play in the onsen (natural hot springs) to keep warm. They're peaceful, and they don't seem to mind humans watching them or taking pictures of them. They've become a tourist attraction of their own over time. They have innocent and carefree, but at the same time very human-like, personalities. You're probably unlikely to find such peaceful primates anywhere. An onsen bath a day takes the angry away?

In Japan, this species is known as Nihonzaru (Nihon means Japan while saru means monkey). These monkeys can weigh around 19-25 pounds. Their lifespan is around 30 years, which is relatively lengthy compared to other macaque species. They are easily recognizable from their adorable pinkish faces. The snow monkey is known to use a variety of different vocalizations to communicate. Studies have found that different monkey troops have even developed different accents.

Some areas have an overpopulation of sika deer.

Some areas have an overpopulation of sika deer.

9. Sika Deer

Abundant in Japan, but found throughout eastern Asia, this deer's name comes from shika, the Japanese word for deer. In Japanese, it is called Nihonjika, or the Japan deer. In China, this deer was farmed for its velvet antlers, which were used in traditional Chinese medicine. But the practice was never imported to Japan. They are one of the few species of deer which retain their spots into maturity, although some do not have spots. Populous in and around the city of Nara in particular, these deer seem pretty chill around humans.

They are imported as prize game animals in other countries due to their cleverness and stealth when hunted. In Japan, the population is out of control; the deer's only predator, wolves, went extinct in Japan around 100 years ago. In the Nara Prefecture, the deer sometimes wander casually into areas inhabited by humans.

In Shinto, they are sacred, seen as messengers from the Shinto gods, and they are often called a national treasure of Japan.

The pika are adept at burrowing through snow.

The pika are adept at burrowing through snow.

8. Ezo Naki Usagi

Ezo is the historical name for the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, which is home to many cute wintery critters. So the name of this little guy means "Hokkaido crying rabbit." It's a kind of lagomorph (rabbit family) animal called a pika, and it might have been the inspiration for the famous Pokemon, Pikachu. Northern pikas are noteworthy for not hibernating in the winter. They can tunnel under snow to food caches.

It lives in the mountains of Hokkaido and makes its home burrowing in rocky crevices. It gets the "crying" part of its name from its distinct high-pitched calls, as you can hear in the following video.

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These birds are known to help out breeding pairs if they do not breed themselves.

These birds are known to help out breeding pairs if they do not breed themselves.

7. Shima Enaga

Also called the long-tailed tit (hehehe), this bird is also a Hokkaido native. This species of bird is found in many parts of the world. The Japanese variety has an all-white head, while other subspecies have stripes and eyebrow patterns on their heads. This species is known to live in flocks made up of parents and offspring. These flocks will huddle together on winter nights to stay warm.

According to researchers, members of this species who do not successfully breed sometimes end up as "helpers" to a related pair that successfully mated. They will actually help take care of their offspring. Isn't that endearing?

The fox has a major role in Japanese mythology.

The fox has a major role in Japanese mythology.

6. Red Fox

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is not unique to Japan by any means. It has a range that includes most of the Northern Hemisphere, and it is an invasive species in Australia.

There are two subspecies in Japan: Vulpes vulpes japonica, found throughout Japan, and Vulpes vulpes schrencki, which is found on Hokkaido. In Japan, the fox has mystical status as a kitsune spirit that is capable of assuming human form. The kitsune fox spirits were associated with the Shinto god of rice, Inari, who is sometimes depicted in fox form. Foxes were once believed to have many supernatural powers, and fox trickster myths exist in Japanese legend, as well as in legends from around the world.

The red squirrel has over 40 subspecies.

The red squirrel has over 40 subspecies.

5. Red Squirrel

Although this guy's habitat ranges from as far west as the British Isles and all the way east to Japan, I still included it on this list because I love their cute long ears. It distinguishes this species from the squirrels we have here in America. This species can also be identified by its reddish coat and white underbelly. The Japanese subspecies is known as the Ezo red squirrel.

The subspecies of Ural owls found in Hokkaido are the smallest type.

The subspecies of Ural owls found in Hokkaido are the smallest type.

4. Ezo Fukuro

Its name is Ezo, as in Hokkaido, plus the Japanese word for owl, fukuro.

It's also known as the Ural owl. It lives in Hokkaido and Russia, with its habitat stretching west into Scandinavia as well. Its calls are written as "Hoh-hoh, Guruk Hoh-hoh," which is probably why they named the little owl-like Pokémon Hoothoot "Ho-Ho-" in Japanese. It is not considered threatened or endangered, but it might be hard to spot in the snowy forests it inhabits. The subspecies found on Hokkaido is known to be the smallest type of Ural owl.

These leopard cats are only found on specific islands.

These leopard cats are only found on specific islands.

3. Tsushima Leopard Cat and Iriomote Cat

Both the Iriomote cat and Tsushima leopard cat are subspecies of leopard cats. They're about the size of domestic cats, and their range stretches across Southeast Asia. In Japan, they're only found on the islands of Iriomote and Tsushima. While the leopard cat in general isn't threatened or endangered, the Japanese subspecies of these cats are in more trouble, with the Tsushima leopard cat being endangered. The Iriomote cat has been declared to be a national monument by the Okinawa government.

One famous specimen was named Yon. He was hit by a car and rehabilitated at the Ishigaki Veterinary Clinic. When he died in April of 2011, he was estimated to be about 15 years old, which would make him the oldest Iriomote cat on record. The observations on Yon proved to be crucial in learning about the behavior of these animals.

In China, leopard cats are threatened by the fur trade.

In anime, these cats are part of the inspiration for the characters and plot of the manga-turned-anime Tokyo Mew Mew.

The tanuki is prominent in Japanese mythology.

The tanuki is prominent in Japanese mythology.

2. Tanuki

Also called the Japanese raccoon dog, this animal shows up in a lot of Japanese folklore, art, anime, manga, and video games, such as the shopkeeper in the Animal Crossing series.

It resembles a North American raccoon, so the word "tanuki" is often translated as "raccoon." However, these are not the same animals. In most Japanese tales, the tanuki are playful tricksters, deceiving humans to make them look foolish. The tanuki and the fox are the two animals that show up the most in Japanese folk tales.

These animals are mainly nocturnal. They can live up to around seven or eight years, though they can live longer in captivity.

The Ezo Momonga is known for their large eyes.

The Ezo Momonga is known for their large eyes.

1. Ezo Momonga

This animal is also known as the Nihon Momonga, which means Japanese dwarf flying squirrel. There is a bigger flying squirrel in Japan, but I love this little guy for his big, round, cute eyes. It almost looks like something that came out of a manga or Japanese video game. This critter can be found all over Japan, and it likes to hide in little nooks inside trees. They are mainly found on the islands on Honshu and Kyushu.

These squirrels are mainly nocturnal. They enjoy eating seeds, fruits, and leaves. They typically grow to be around eight inches in length.

The weasel didn't quite make the cut.

The weasel didn't quite make the cut.

Conclusion & Honorable Mentions

There are many animals I liked that didn't make the cut, such as the brown bear, weasel, stoat/ermine, wild boar, etc. I thought some were too mundane as they also live in North America. For other animals, I didn't think were as cute as the ones that made the list. But, suffice to say, Japan is home to an abundance of amazingly cute wild animals.

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© 2015 Naomi Starlight

Comments

Angela on November 07, 2019:

Nice

Yesmin on October 30, 2019:

Nice

P on October 15, 2019:

Cute

Pandaman on September 17, 2019:

Look at the red panda and red fox and leopard cat, so cute

Monster on June 10, 2019:

thx this is Awesome

6ix9ine on May 22, 2019:

6ix9ine in the house bro!

Blah blah blah on May 17, 2019:

so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I want to go to japan

P on May 17, 2019:

I had fun doing my reasch

#HarryPotterfan on May 16, 2019:

OMG, that last photo is Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire.

Katy on March 27, 2019:

Shima emaga

cool guy on March 11, 2019:

i LOVE the Ezo momonga!!!

Takuma terasaki on March 07, 2019:

It's the best I can see my favourite animals

no bad words on February 04, 2019:

i don't think that name is appropriate

nigger boy on January 16, 2019:

i eat animals on a daily

lol on October 16, 2018:

yeh lol

poopbutt on October 11, 2018:

stoopid

boboboboboboboob on September 27, 2018:

lol what is your name

bob on September 23, 2018:

lol these animal's r so cute

fionnley monaghan on September 10, 2018:

is there such thing as a rack-on dog or do they just treat it like a dog

Nazir on September 10, 2018:

that's nice lol

fionnley monaghan on September 10, 2018:

is there such thing as a rack-on dog or do they just treat it like a dog

Billy on September 09, 2018:

Stupid

Kawaii Chan JR on June 30, 2018:

There are the cutest animals I seen next time I go japan I going to try to see them

cat on May 04, 2018:

#capforthecup

niceplazy on April 22, 2018:

shima enaga

keyanna speck on April 11, 2018:

the baby fox is the cuttest

heylo on March 22, 2018:

loloolooooooooooooooooooolllllllllllllllll

Chickennugget on October 28, 2017:

These animals were SOOOOOOO cute!

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