Japan’s pet craze
Japanese attitudes about pets have changed rather dramatically in the past 100 years–especially the past 20. A few years back I read a book called Yankee Hobo in the Orient. The author describes the inhumanity of the Japanese toward dogs in pre-WW2 Japan.
A few decades later Mishima wrote about the torturing of cats in 午後の曳航. A couple decades after that, in the 1980s when I lived in Japan, I observed not much progress. Few people had pets, and those that did didn’t seem to treat them well.
All of that has now changed. The pet business is booming in Japan. Pets seem to be treated as well as children, and pampered, little, “cute” animals can be seen everywhere. Girls bring them in their purses on trains, older people are out walking them, and a large share of the population seems to own at least one–despite the limited space. I saw a guy just yesterday with a tiny dog in a purse. The dog was white but the ears had been dyed purple.
On a recent holiday, I had to wait an hour and a half for my bus (which usually arrives every 20 minutes when it isn’t a holiday) at the Ebisu Station so I killed a little time at the nearby shopping center. A dog show was taking place so I captured a few images of the pet craze. Not only were there dogs on stage, but there were hundreds in the audience as well.
At this show the dogs are auditioning to become a “Dog Idol.” I’m guessing this is like “American Idol” for dogs?
Everyone at the shopping center on this day seemed to own a little dog (or two or three).
On a recent walk around the Okubo part of Shinjuku we happened upon our first Japanese pet store. I didn’t have a camera at the time. Sorry.
The pet store was the strangest I’ve ever seen. Many, if not most, of the animals can not be legally sold in the states I’m guessing. There were owls, falcons, pigs, rare birds, monkeys, ferrets, hedgehogs, chinchilla, and about a dozen species I have never even heard of or seen before. It felt like a pet store one would find walking down Diagon Alley. The prices also seemed fictional, with many animals being listed for the equivalent of thousands of dollars.