Helping Osakas Dogs – The Animal Refuge Kansai

In order to capture the whole beauty of Japan you need more than the two weeks we had on our trip through this beautiful country in 2016. I experienced Japan as a very dog-friendly country that offers a lot of possibilities to interact with our fluffy friends.

In this article I want to focus on the Animal Refuge Kansai – a great project located in Osaka that should make it onto every Japan road trip to do list.



How can I help?

No matter if you want to spent a month at the animal shelter or just a day – it will be great, this I can guarantee. The only thing they ask of you is to stay at least a full day: 10 am to 4 pm. You don’t need any previous knowledge in order to help, you will get a short introduction after your arrival followed by a tour through the shelter. There are about 250 dogs at the shelter so any help is appreciated. 🙂

Your day will probably look like this:

  • 60% walking the dogs
  • 20% cleaning
  • 20% playing and cuddling

If you choose to stay longer than a day the shelter offers free accommodation if available: Room info

We only stayed for one day but it was totally worth it. We mainly walked the dogs and spent some time with shy dogs like the gang you see in the picture below. I stayed in their shelter for an hour before I could pet one of them. This is really important since dogs who are not afraid or shy around humans have a higher chance to find a forever home.


Any costs?

Nope, this program is free. You only have to pay for your transportation and lunch. It will cost you about JPY 8.382 to get from and back to Osaka Station per train and taxi. But if you ask nicely maybe someone at the shelter will drive you back to the station for free.

What can I expect?

  • Rual Japan away from the big cities and tourist attractions
  • A great team and lovely dogs
  • Shiba Inus!!
  • One of the most beautiful scenery of our Japan trip, since the shelter is located in a mystical looking forrest.


How do I get there?

The shelter is located in Nomaōhara and the next train station is Tokiwadai Station.It takes you 1.5 hours to get from Osaka to the shelter (1 h train + 30 minutes cab) and the trip to the shelter is already worth it. After arriving at Tokiwadai Station just turn left and walk for about 5 minutes until you see some cabs. Just say “To Ark” and they will know the way.


In order to find your way around Japan I would advice you to use Google Maps or Hyperdia -you should also get a sim card since this will make your life way more easy.


595 Noma Ohara, Nose-cho, Toyono-gun, Osaka-fu 563-0131 JAPAN
Open: 10:00 a.m.- 15:00 p.m
Wednesdays cloded.
Phone: 072-737-0712 10:00-17:00
Mail: [ ]


Want more tipps?

Bring lunch and water with you because there are no stores nearby. I would also recommend walking boots, clothes that can get dirty and a rain coat.

Other dog-ish things to do in Japan:

Heart Tokushima:

Heart Tokushima is dedicated to help Japans orphaned dogs. This shelter is located in Tokushima and also offers free accommodation for volunteers who want to stay for a longer period of time.

The Fox Village:


It will take you about 1 h to get to the Miyagi Zao Fox Village from Tokyo and is therefor perfect for a day trip. Just take the Shinkanzen from Tokyo station to the Shiroishizao Station and if you have a Japan Rail Pass (you should!) this trip is free. After arriving at Shiroishizao station grab a cab which will take you to the village in 20 minutes and will cost 4000 Yen.

Dog Park Tokio:

Not really an “activity” but nevertheless a fun thing to see is the Tokyo dog park in Yoyogi Park. It is basically just a fenced in area where dog owners can unleash their dogs and let them play with each other freely. I just enjoyed grabbing a coffee and hanging out at the park waiting for a dog to say hi and let me pet him. 

Cat Cafe:


One of the most famous and popular things to do in Tokio is visiting a cat cafe. My own experience as a 100% dog person was still nice. The cats are super cute and fluffy (above picture as proof) but they do not crave human attention since there is always someone there to entertain them. But it is still a nice place to take a break from the city and have a coffee.

Dog Cafe:

Do not go there. I regret it sincerely. There is a big golden retriever that just runs around in circles because he does not get enough utilization and the staff does not care at all.

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