Capybaras - those cute South American critters that look like giant hamsters - are well known in Japan thanks to the popular cartoon character Kapibara-san, but the oversized rodents have recently surged in popularity in tandem with the boom in animal-petting establishments such as cat, rabbit and owl cafes.
Tempozan Anipa (short for "Animal Park") in Osaka, an indoor petting zoo next to Osaka Aquarium that opened in 2005, recently expanded their rather tame line-up of guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs and cats with a new "jungle zone," featuring capybaras, alpacas and kangaroos. Visitors are encouraged to pet the animals, which are roaming freely around the space, and hand-feed them leaves and animal chow.
Capybaras are also a main attraction at Kobe Animal Kingdom, a large interactive animal park which opened in 2014. Around half a dozen capys reside in the park's Aqua Valley alongside beavers and seals, free to soak in pools as well as stroll around the grounds. Here visitors can also pet the capybaras and feed them approved snacks.... [Continue]
Oh oh, Halloween is here, so it's time for our annual cafe black-cat special. They've always brought us good luck, so we thought it would be nice to share our favorite black cats from cat cafes around Japan. Don't be scared, they're all friendly, especially if you've got cat treats to dispense.
Oh, and while you're here, check out our review and photos from Nekobiyaka, the world's only all black-cat cat cafe, located in Himeji, Japan. [Continue]
Hundreds of dogs and their human companions made the trek out to Tokyo Big Sight convention center in early April for InterPets 2016, Japan's biggest pet fair.
Although the fair also caters to the interests of cat fanciers, lizard lovers and tropical fish enthusiasts, a majority of the exhibitors were here to show off the latest consumer products for dogs. And judging from the number of canine-filled baby carriages here they seemed to be the main target audience, although we also spotted a few confused-looking cats and inquisitive meerkats being wheeled around the hall.
Visiting dogs could look forward to free samples of doggy treats, while a few booths carried more elaborate cakes and pastries, and others focused on health foods. One Hokkaido-based company went even further with a full lineup of prepared gourmet dinners, including minestrone soup, liver steaks and venison-liver stew. [Continue]
"Java sparrows and their friends" is the name of a new popup market showcasing adorable bird-themed pottery, towels, stationery, jewelry, and other household goods and crafts. The market is set up on the first floor of Tokyu Hands in Ikebukuro and will run through the end of May.
This is the second in a series of bird-related popup events at Tokyu Hands, following their very popular "Parakeets and Friends" market back in January. Bird-shaped cakes and cookies from Omotesando's Kotori Cafe ("Small-bird cafe") will also be available, and custom-made bird-shaped rings can be ordered on May 16 and 23.
Our favorite cube-shaped dog, "kakkoii inu" (the "good-looking dog"), is having his own show at Parco Gallery X in Tokyo's Shibuya until April 29. Limited-edition goods of artist Seiichi Tanabe's popular character will be available at the gallery, and figure sets are available at Kitan Club website.
What style-conscious cat or dog would want to sleep in an ordinary pet bed when they can snuggle up inside a giant kabocha pumpkin, Brussels sprout or mikan orange? These hand-sewn beds from manufacturer Unihabitat can be made snug and cozy by pulling on the built-in drawstrings, or laid out flat for casual naps. Available from Unihabitat through Amazon Japan
Shoto Museum of Art in Tokyo's Shibuya neighborhood has put together a crowd-pleasing exhibition exploring the role of dogs in art through the centuries. Some ninety works of art will be on display in the small musuem, and the show, called "Inu Inu Inu" ("Dog Dog Dog"), runs through the end of May. Check the museum's website for more information.
Hello Kitty is the subject of an unlikely collaborative show at Fukoku Life Insurance Company in central Tokyo. The austere lobby of the company's headquarters is currently overloading on kawaii, as Hello Kitty characters don cosplay outfits to represent Fukoku's 62 regional branches.
The exhibition is fronted by a traditional noren curtain with a family crest of Hello Kitty at the door. The 62 illustrations are mounted in the air above a grid-like map of Japan.
Tokyo's Big Sight exhibition halls were hopping recently with packs of dogs, imperiously ordering their drivers to steer their strollers through the crowds of pesky humans. We saw three cute lapdogs in a buggy accompanied by an entourage of six exhausted human owners at their beck and call. We imagined they were yelping: "More gourmet cakes, more beauty treatments, more photo ops, please!"
This year's pet trade fair in Tokyo was quite revealing. Apart from the usual pet food and grooming supplies, a number of arcane items hinted that the Japanese pet goods market might be already past maturity, and well into the twilight zone.
How about a pink Barbie-branded Honda car, aimed at the female customer who loves both dogs and dolls? Or some beauty treatments for your pooch incorporating Ayurveda, the ancient Indian herbal medicine? Or numerous display cases filled with colorful gourmet cakes and cookies that wouldn't look out of place in the window of a Parisian patisserie?
Still extremely popular some four decades after her launch, the ubiquitous cartoon feline seems to be popping up more than ever recently, and in some very unexpected places. Is Sanrio pursuing their licensing policy more aggressively, or are we just noticing it more?
Of course we've grown used to seeing HK running rampant through toy stores and candy shops, and decorating everyday items like purses, umbrellas, socks, teacups, toothbrushes and snack food packaging. Some recent sightings go beyond these ordinary categories though - in some surprising directions.
It seems Japanese cat lovers are an artistic bunch. Or maybe Japanese artists love cats. Whichever way round, there is so much kitty-inspired artistic expression here in Tokyo that "Meow" - a huge exhibition of cat-themed art held at Harajuku's Design Festa gallery - is now in its fourth year. The show has totally taken over both wings and spills out onto the streets in front and back.
At the recent exhibition, some sixty artists showed new feline-themed pieces, including photography, illustration, graphic design, accessories and figures. Fancy a leather strap with cute cat head and tail that can be curled round a finger and worn as a ring, or twisted around a pencil, or, um, worn as a ring?