They might be known as man’s best friend, but dogs in Japan actually more closely resemble royalty than a regular chum. With luxury pampering, high fashion clothing and genuine leather accessories, pooches lucky enough to be born in the land of the rising sun can look forward to a life that’s doggone-dandy. Indeed, research from the agency Research Panel shows that dogs in Japan are more likely to be owned by families with large incomes. And with all that money to burn, these dog-lovers have caused the pet industry to skyrocket to ¥1.2 trillion. So, what exactly are these rich families spending all their money on? To find out, KS snooped around the uber-chic Horie area, known to be the epicentre of pooch pampering.
Lassies who lunch
Dog cafes were one of the earliest centres of canine commerce to appear in the area. Here, owners can take their own dogs or spend time with the “in house” dogs that are kept especially for people’s petting convenience. While the most likely explanation for the popularity of these places is “just because”, the cafe’s fans are quick to cite a recent article by the National Institute of Health showing that people who regularly pet animals are statistically less likely to have a fatal heart attack.
While there are countless cafes to choose from, one of the more notable ones is Kofumi, which offers a dog run where pooches that have been cooped up in apartments can stretch their legs. Of course, this being Japan, there’s always going to be an extreme version and a neighboring business has taken the exercise concept to the next level. In a bid to outdo competitors, Peace One offer an agility training school for dogs. If you’ve ever wanted a pet that can impress your friends by running through tunnels and jumping hurdles, then this place is for you. It all comes to a feverish climax at the Peace One festival where highly-trained dogs do canine gymnastics for their adoring owners.
Hotel for hounds
Of course, all of this fun can make the little darlings tired, so luckily there are places for pooches to get a little bit of R&R. PARCS offers rooms that can be rented by the hour for some shuteye, as well as a “hotel”’ for longer stays. Dog Hotel Felice also has a selection of rooms ranging from basic to the kind that Paris Hilton’s chihuahua probably enjoys. Their most expensive room is the Sweet Room. This pooch paradise costs ¥25,100 but offers walks, a spacious room with mats, two beds and unlimited access to a play zone featuring hoops and tunnels. Yep, better than the room I got on my last holiday! If this makes you feel envious, don’t fret. Out in Kobe, Hotel Okura has luxury rooms where pets and their owners can stay together.
And if that’s not enough, why not go one further and give them a spa too? The Peace One spa boasts that it increases blood circulation and improves the beauty of your beloved pet’s skin and hair, and the Yao store offers a bubble spa option for the truly spoilt pets.
Dressed to impress
If, for some strange reason, you have ever wondered what your dog would look like dressed up like an angel, Father Christmas or Superman, then Dog Luck has you covered. My personal favourite was a jacket with a miniature jockey “riding” the dog. A recent popular trend has been for outfits with small arms, so that you can make your dog actually look exactly like some crazy cosplaying mini-person if you want. Admittedly a very big if…
In the likely event that dogs are secretly a metaphor for children, then the dogs whose owners shop at Cou Cou are basically the spoilt brats moaning because they only got one ice cream when they wanted two. While most people would be forgiven for thinking that dogs already have shoes, because of, you know, those pads on the bottom of their feet, the staff at this store would no doubt disagree. So for anyone that feels you can never be too careful, you can add an extra level of protection by giving your pup shoes. Called Pawz, they may be excessive, but just possibly your pooch will be grateful on these cold winter nights.
Pimp the pooch
Cou Cou also offers you plenty of opportunities to play dress-up with your favourite pet. There’s a rabbit costume, complete with sparkly bunny ears, and even coloured hair extensions called Panash that can be molded into whatever hairstyle you desire. And should your canine friend have, dare I say, any odor, then this can be easily eliminated by purchasing a smell cleansing machine. But the ultimate in crazy accessories has to be the “quack bills”—muzzles that give your pet a distinctly non-threatening duck beak. But if you do go down this path, just remember that next time your pet is scratching on the door, it might just be pretending to go to the toilet so it can run away from home.
Where to pimp your pooch
• PARCS: parcs-pet.com/hotel.html
• Cou Cou: www.rakuten.ne.jp/gold/cou-cou
• Peace One: peace-one.jp/awaspa and peace-one.jp/festival2013
• Felice: osaka.felice-pet.jp/room.html
• Tuk Tuk: www.tuktuk-2929.com/shop.html
• Bamvish: www.bamvish.com/shop/index.html
• Wasabee Cafe: wasabee-cafe.com