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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 created many iconic, 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. Approach them with caution, remember it's not usually a good idea to feed them, and remember that they are best left alone.

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

10. Snow Monkey

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Up in mountainous ski resort areas in Japan, snow monkeys, also known as Japanese macaques, play in the onsen, natural hot springs, to keep warm. They're peaceful, 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?

9. Sika Deer

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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 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, as 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 are often called a national treasure of Japan. (Source: Wikipedia)

8. Ezo Naki Usagi

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Ezo is a 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 might have been the inspiration for the famous Pokemon, Pikachu.

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.

7. Shima Enaga

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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.

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

6. Red Fox

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The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is not unique to Japan by any means, with 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 found on Hokkaido. In Japan, the fox attains mystical status as a kitsune spirit, 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.

5. Red Squirrel

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Although this guy's habitat ranges from as far west as the British Isles - all the way east to Japan, I still included it on this list because I love the cute long ears, distinguishing it from the squirrels we have here in America.

4. Ezo Fukuro

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It's 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, 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 Pokemon Hoothoot "Ho-Ho-" in Japanese. It is not considered threatened or endangered, but might be hard to spot in the snowy forests it inhabits.

3. Tsushima Leopard Cat and Iriomote Cat

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Both the Iriomote Cat and Tsushima Leopard Cat are subspecies of the same species, leopard cats. Small, about house-cat sized, 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.

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.

2. Tanuki

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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, they are not the same as the North American raccoon. 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.

1. Ezo Momonga

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Also known as the Nihon Momonga, meaning Japanese dwarf flying squirrel. There is a bigger flying squirrel in Japan, but I love the 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 likes to hide in little nooks inside trees.

Conclusion & Honorable Mentions

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

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© 2015 Rachael Lefler

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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