One of the things we’ve been fortunate to have this past year is a friend who brings her cuddly little Pomeranian over to play every once in a while. When I say “we”, I mean my daughter in particular. Since our dog passed away last summer and we had no desire to get another one, our “part-time puppy” was a godsend for our animal loving daughter. Now she can get her fix of puppy kisses and snuggling and we don’t have to worry about what to do with a dog when we go on long trips over the summer (or, as it has happened, move to Japan next year).
But moving to Japan does mean a sad goodbye to our furry little part-time houseguest, which I am sure is going to break the heart of our daughter, even if it’s temporary. Thankfully, Japan already has a solution for people like us who can’t or don’t want to own their own pets: pet rental.
Pet rental is extremely popular and makes a lot of sense in a big city like Tokyo. Many people rent apartments where dogs are not allowed by the landlords. Other people simply don’t have enough room for a pet, or they are working long Japanese hours and don’t have time to take care of a pet full-time. There’s a lot of good reasons people can’t own a pet, and the enterprising business people of Japan are ready to fill the need with various ways to provide you with a part time furry friend.
The most common form of pet rental are animal cafes, which are places you can hang out, have a snack or drink and interact with the dozen or so animals that live at the cafe. The most common animal cafe is the cat cafe, but there are also rabbit cafes and in Yokohama, a reptile cafe, should your tastes deviate that way.
Nekorobi is a cat cafe in the neighborhood of Ikebukuro, not too far from where we expect to live, so my daughter is already making plans for us to visit there on a regular basis. Nekorobi also has an English website and lots of photos and videos of their adorable tenants, so she can get to know something about each of them even before we get there.
Dogs are also rentable in Japan, though not so much in a cafe setting. However, there are shops that allow you to rent a dog for an hourly rate and take it for a walk or to play in the park. Our daughter is unaware of this option, and we intend to keep it that way for as long as possible.
Rentable pets is another aspect of Tokyo that will keep us from getting homesick about things left behind in America. Now if I can find a place that sells Mexican tortillas, we’re all set.
By the way, the kitten in the picture above is one my daughter fell in love with at a pet store in Odaiba. And yes, the price tag was 300,000 yen or $3,000. Though not a typical price for a kitten in Japan, it sure makes cat cafes seem like pure genius for the parents of cat-crazed little girls.