Culture

Tokyo Luxurious Life Gone to the Dogs

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Amid chronic economic problems and following the worst natural disaster in Japanese history, one small but significant sector has been flourishing in Japan: The pet business.

More and more Japanese have been seen increasingly with their dogs, well, mostly dogs, strolling along the fancy boulevards of Tokyo, holding them close to their hearts as if they were their own children, or even making them comfortable in little carts. Moreover, it has become an ordinary occurrence now to see dogs dressed in expensive brand name clothing and accessories or even tuxedos.

According to 2010 data, the pet industry is booming in Japan, catering to a more than one billion dollar market.

A series of shops in Odaiba district, on Tokyo Bay, are crowded most days of the week with Japanese pet lovers trying to get the latest for their beloved four-footed ones, such as fresh cakes, birthday gifts, nice overall dresses, or even a wedding dress, you name it.

Take and Give.Needs Co., a wedding service, has reportedly started offering tailor-made outfits for pets so they can attend those very special occasions - the weddings of their owners - in style.

Making a tuxedo or a dress for a pet takes about a month. Prices start at about 300 US dollars. Though the service is aimed at dogs and cats, it can be arranged for other species of pets by consultation.

"Pets are very much a part of our family," said a couple in their late 20s who plan to tie the knot at a European-style guest house in Tokyo. "Finding a venue with a garden, which has made it possible for our pets to attend together, has given us another reason to look forward to our wedding," they told a Japanese newspaper. Two miniature dachshunds from his family will be attending the wedding, one dressed in a tux designed just like the one the groom will be wearing, and the other in a dress just like the bride's.

Take and Give.Needs decided to launch the service after taking note of the fact that several wedding halls now permit pets. Japan's huge pet boom also played into the decision.

A company employee said about 300 couples a year request to have their pets attend their weddings. Other companies are providing more usual services. They vary from nursing services to petsitters, insurance, funerals/tombs, hotel stays, pet trimmers, training for good manners, cafés for dogs, massage and the animal finder (a google service to find pets lost in 11 March Great Northeastern Japan Earthquake.)

A survey on why Japanese like pets found that over half of the respondents, or 54%, feel that pets give them peace of mind and warmth. Participants were allowed to give multiple answers. The second main reason was that 45% feel they can relax with their pets. Children grow up as better people if pets are in the house was selected by 41.2%, while 30% said pets are useful for security, and 27% find that raising pets is a great experience.

This huge industry is supporting small industries such as manufacturing food for pets, which had sales of 4,698 million yen last year. Goods for pets amounted to 1,8 billion yen, and services are 6,6 billion yen, according to pets' related websites.

While dogs and cats account for most of the pets, there are many other species of animals raised as pets by the Japanese such as fish, birds, hamsters, turtles, snakes, rabbits, lizards, ferrets and beetles.

Japanese household spending has been decreasing over the last year but pets seem to be getting a larger piece of the family budget. According to 2009 data, the average money spent on each dog in 2009 is some 248,916 yen. Cats got a little less at about 128,941 yen that year.

There are even some online sites providing matching services for pets of lonely hearts. For a certain fee, you place the photo of your pet with the basic information, and matchmaking experts will find that perfect match to secure your pet's happiness sooner than you might expect.

PanOrient News


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