Saturday, March 11, 2023

‘Pet Culture:’ Pets Are Replacing Children in Japan

We’ve been reading for years about Japan’s declining birth rate, but we didn’t realize the extent to which dogs and other pets have filled a void in the lives of some Japanese.

As of a couple of years ago, there were just 14.93 million children in Japan under the age of 14, while there were some 20 million dogs and cats registered. Here’s an interesting article on the topic:

We noticed the past couple of days in walking around this part of Odaiba a significant  number of people walking small dogs or pushing them in purpose-built baby-style strollers.

We observed that the basement of the nearby Aqua City Mall features two large pet stores, with windows full of puppies along with a few kittens, and stores selling clothing, strollers, and various accessories for pets.

Even before going downstairs earlier Sunday afternoon, we came across some kind of display (a pet show?) on the main floor, tiny dogs in tiny cages, some clothed and others “naked.”

In the basement, there was a lot of interest in the puppies and kittens in the front windows of the two stores.

Among the throngs were people pushing their pampered pets in strollers, perhaps considering an addition to the family.

Strollers are prominently displayed. 

The center stroller below is priced at 48,000 yen, about US $355.

The extensive clothing displays are very similar to what might be found in a baby-wear store at home,  with items ranging from “everyday wear” to fancy outfits to rain gear.

The deeper sociological implications of the Japanese pet culture are well beyond the scope of our little travel blog, but we did feel as if we’d stumbled on a fascinating and somewhat poignant insight into a significant aspect of modern Japanese society.