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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

In fashionable Japanese coffee shops, patrons relish pig cuddling sessions

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TOKYO — The ⁤evolution of pet-friendly ‍cafés in Japan has taken an interesting turn.‍ From ⁣the initial pet cafés‍ to the popular cat cafés, where coffee was secondary to‍ the joy ​of interacting ⁤with cats,‌ Japan now welcomes a new trend: The pig‍ café.

Brad Loomis, a software engineer from Pullman, Washington, visited Tokyo’s ⁤Mipig Café with his 21-year-old daughter, Paige. “It was a delightful experience. Very soothing and enjoyable,” he said.

On a ⁣recent ⁤morning,‍ the café was bustling with customers, taking selfies and beaming with​ joy. The pigs, a ‌miniature breed, roamed around the room, seeking a ⁢warm lap to snuggle‍ into.

“The pigs are surprisingly serene, ⁢with occasional snorts breaking the silence. They crave company, making them excellent⁤ companions. Contrary to ​popular ⁣belief, they are very clean and odorless,” said a customer.

For a fee of ‍$15, customers⁣ can enjoy the first 30 minutes in the company of these adorable pigs. However, a reservation ‌is mandatory.

Shiho Kitagawa, an executive at Mipig, said,‌ “Each pig is unique. They all ‍have ‍distinct personalities. ​You might find one to be stubborn, while another might be ⁢gentle.” She ⁣affectionately refers to⁣ the pigs as “buta-san,” using an honorific.

The⁢ Mipig Café, located in the trendy Harajuku district, is one of the 10⁤ pig cafés that the operator has launched across Japan. The first⁢ one was inaugurated in Tokyo in 2019, and two more are slated to ⁤open later this year.

The pigs, known as “micro pigs,” are no larger than a corgi dog, ⁣even when fully grown.‌ The cafés also house adorable piglets, the ‍size of‍ toy poodles.

Pig enthusiasts claim they make excellent pets. Mipig sells⁤ these pigs for about $1,350. They are ‍already toilet-trained and accustomed to human‍ interaction. Micro pig food is also available for purchase. Mipig has ⁢sold over 1,300 pigs as pets so far.

Although a drink dispensing machine is available in⁢ the café, most customers⁣ are​ too engrossed with the ⁤pigs to⁤ bother getting a drink.

Foreign ‍tourists who visited‌ the café mentioned that they discovered it on Instagram and other social‌ media‍ platforms. The café does not invest in advertising. They ‌made ⁢it a point to ‍visit the café during their trip‍ to Japan,​ along with other popular tourist destinations like the ancient capital of Kyoto.

Ben Russell, a visitor from Australia,⁣ was thrilled when a ‌pig finally ⁤climbed into his lap. Despite ⁢this being his first encounter with⁢ a real pig, they have always been his favorite‍ animal, ⁤he confessed, although⁤ he couldn’t pinpoint why.

Sophie Mo’unga from New Zealand, visiting Japan with her husband and two children, was‍ a big hit with⁢ the pigs, with several of them vying for her lap. “They were adorable. I think they were all trying to keep each other warm,” she said.

The pig café is the latest addition to a series of animal-themed coffee ‌shops that have emerged in Japan, featuring owls, hedgehogs, birds, and even snakes.

However, some people have raised ethical concerns⁢ about ⁤whether the animals enjoy the experience as much as the humans. Sachiko Azuma, head of Tokyo-based PEACE (Put an ⁣End to Animal ⁤Cruelty and Exploitation), said, “It must be stressful for the animals to be touched ⁤and fondled by a bunch of strangers.”

Azuma​ disapproves of the commercialization of‍ animals. “The animals have become tools for a ⁤profit-making business,” she said. Her group⁤ primarily opposes animal experiments and “petting zoos.” She believes that ​cafés are often too small to ​provide a natural environment for cats or‌ small pigs, and those that trap wildlife are abhorrent. However, she supports cafés run by shelters that aim ‌to find owners for abandoned pets.

Dr. Bruce⁤ Kornreich, a professor of clinical sciences​ at Cornell‍ University’s ⁤College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y., stated that interacting with animals can lower blood pressure, reduce headaches, decrease the risk of cardiovascular ‌disease, enhance well-being, and help people manage stress.

He said, “There is mounting evidence that associating with⁤ and owning pets⁢ can provide mental health and physical health benefits for people.” ⁢ However,‍ he admitted that the⁢ exact ‍mechanism through which this happens is still⁣ unclear.

Whether it’s dogs or​ pigs, ⁢people seem to find comfort and happiness in their company. Paige Loomis, Brad’s daughter, said⁣ of the pigs, “Very cute and very sleepy. They made me​ sleepy.”

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Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
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