Recently I was sitting with Mark Smith at Smith’s School of English Fukushima chatting about pets. He gave me this photo of his dog and I couldn’t resist showing it to many people in Fukushima-ku. Some of those people but not all are students of English conversation but all loved this cute photo.
I myself am an animal lover and Japan is a great place for our pets to live. I am quite sure Japan is in the Top Ten Internationally for dressing dogs in adorable outfits and posting photos of dogs, cats, birds, fish and all sorts of pets on the Internet.
Speaking in English with students at Fukushima there are interesting differences in how cultures express this love. The first thing we realised was that Japanese dogs seem to live a fantastic life. Food, grooming, veterinary support and of course lots of pretty clothes are all here.
Nearby the school, I see people walking in what appears to be an impromptu dog fashion exhibition. In Japan, you can see pets dressed in frilly clothes, being pushed around in baby carriages and being taken into cafés. Pet products and services available in Japan are huge!
I heard from a student of English that in Tokyo there are cafés where owners and their dogs can eat together,with a special dog menu that included tiny waffles. And there’s a chain of hotels especially for people who want to stay with their dogs. There is also a gift shop to buy a souvenirs for our pets including rice crackers made with the special local beef.
Did you know that in Japan it is possible to hire a professional to pretty up pooch paws with nail polish and glue-on stones?. The service to ask for is doggu neiru arto (“dog nail art”) or sometimes just doggu neiru (“dog nail”). Unadorned nails, whether human fingernails or animal claws, are just plain “tsume”. If you have a party or special event you can also match nails with your adorable pet : a personalised pet-i-cure service is available in Japan.
Walking on my way to Fukushima’s English school, I saw an amazing array of pet snacks, all beautifully packaged, ranging from strawberry flavored nibbles for rabbits to low-fat chicken strips for dogs. There’s even a new category of mini snacks for mini dogs. Probably Mark Smiths’ dog “Candy” would love them.
I think the pet culture in Japan is amazing. It is so easy to enjoy your life in Japan with your pet. Don’t you agree?