Staring into your dog’s big, brown, sorrowful eyes as you prepare to leave her at the kennel is inevitably a struggle. Luckily, Japan is one place where your fluffy companion can tag along for the ride. Cuddly canines are so beloved here that the country has seen a spate of new dog cafés open up in last decade.
Pack a leash and prepare to go on an adventure at these pet-friendly destinations.
No one ever forgets their first trip to Tokyo. At times, the Japanese capital feels like a cipher — no matter how close you think you’ve come to cracking it, there’s always some new surprise to discover. It’s a city where the best meal of your life, the perfect gift or an astonishing piece of art might be waiting just around the next corner.
While the metropolis’ museums cater more to the two-legged jet set, there’s still plenty to do with Fido around here. Best of all, furry travelers are more than welcome to stay at one of the Dog Lovers’ Suites at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel.
When your pups’ energy levels start to flag after a long day of romping around Yoyogi Park, they can rest their paws on custom-designed doggie lounges or socialize in the play area. Since this is one of the globe’s fashion capitals, the hotel also offers grooming services to keep your pet looking fresh. And pampered pooches who turn their noses up at kibble will enjoy the special menu with tasty options like salmon with polenta and steamed vegetables — there’s even a bone-garnished birthday cake.
Sesoko Island, Okinawa Prefecture
With pristine beaches lapped by the aquamarine waters of the East China Sea, Okinawa’s coastline looks almost as though it could belong to the Seychelles or the Maldives. While the jaw-dropping natural scenery is what lures most travelers to this archipelago, there are plenty of other reasons to come explore.
Locals here are fiercely proud of their distinctive customs, cuisine and cultural identity. As a bonus, you can bring your pooch with you to enjoy the sea breeze at select spots. Sesoko Beach, a half-mile stretch of powder-sand perfection, is just right for canines and their owners.
Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture
Located a breezy 70-minute Shinkansen (bullet train) ride from Tokyo, this jewel-box of a town near the base of Mount Asama, an active volcano, is dreamy in any season. Winter sports enthusiasts swing by to ski when the snow falls, while summers are just right for golfers and cyclists.
In autumn the spectacular fall foliage transforms the landscape into a sea of scarlet, crimson and amber. All those winding hiking trails are ideal for taking your furry friend for long, scenic walks over rolling foothills. Fortunately, Karuizawa Marriott Hotel, a stylish bolthole with a spa and locavore restaurant, is happy to accommodate four-legged guests.
With 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and more than 1,600 temples and shrines, the former Imperial Capital is one Japan’s most revered cultural havens.
Many of these sacred spaces frown upon pets scurrying about the temple grounds, but there’s no reason you can’t bring your favorite mutt along with you for a stroll under the cherry blossoms in Maruyama Park.
Better still, take them on the Tetsugaku no Michi, or “Philosopher’s Walk,” a 1.2-mile tree-lined path running from Nanzenji Temple to Ginkakuji.
Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture
On a clear day travelers on the craggy coastline of the Izu Peninsula can spy the slumbering silhouette of Mount Fuji roughly 30 miles in the distance. Nature-lovers flock here for long weekends and a respite from the mad whirl of Tokyo.
From natural hot springs to postcard-perfect beaches like Shirahama to cascading waterfalls, the region has much to offer. If your dog hates being cooped up, he’ll love scampering along the hiking trails on Mount Daruma.