Tokyo-nites go crazy over pooch pampering
August 19, 2005
Love me, love my dog. Decked in designer outfits with
crystal studded collars, pooches in Tokyo are enjoying the pampered
lifestyle, courtesy of their trend setting owners.
Business Ideas this week, join me, Melanie Yip, as I take a look at
canine commerce in Tokyo.
The people in Japan are known to
be trend-setters. Fashion, telecommunication gadgets¡..and now,
even the doggie craze has set in.
September, Animal Planet's documentary on "Tokyo Dogs" reveals some
interesting and unusual business enterprises that have sprung up in
the city to cater to dog-loving Japanese consumers.
Lassaigne is the director of the documentary and he tells me what
sparked the doggie craze in Tokyo.
AL: Japanese people
are very sentimental people, I think. And they are very shy in other
ways, you know. In the company of pets, they can show their
affections, and be sentimental. In the big city, it is natural that
they are stressed, especially in a society like Tokyo. It is quite
hard and tough. And when they show their affections to the pets,
they get close to their pets, and express the love they have.
Tokyo is a city full of trend setters, but also a city that
is congested. Most apartments mushrooming in the city are built
around space constraints, and so you can guess that small dogs like
chihuahuas will be the favorite choice for dogs.
Japanese, well known for their inventive mindsets, have ventured
into interesting business enterprises like spas for dogs, catering
for dogs, and even a hotel that organizes wedding ceremonies for a
doggy couple. Antoine shares a happy moment.
It is a hotel two hours from Tokyo, and people go there for a
wedding. And it is quite funny because in this hotel, there are only
three suites, rooms, bathrooms, and beauty salons for people and
dogs. And there is also a dining room. Everything in the hotel was
prepared to cater to dogs. Even the Jacuzzi, the meals are prepared
for the dogs. We can go with the dogs to enjoy the Jacuzzi. And the
owner of the hotel is crazy about dogs. He decided later to offer
wedding formalizations for dogs. So he built a chapel at the back of
the garden. When we filmed the wedding, there were about 20 people,
and dogs in front of the chapel. We went through the religion of
having a priest as well. The priest would say things like "would you
like to share the rest of your life with the other dog", it is like
a real wedding. The two dogs, male and female, then share the
wedding cake as a symbol of their union.
To top off the
happy moment is the exchanging of wedding bands, and a toast to the
They have no ring of course, but they put a collar around each
dog like a ring to the finger. And later, they will share a cup of
milk. In the Shinto religion, when you marry, you celebrate the
union with a cup of sake. Here it is replaced with a cup of milk. It
is like a real wedding you see for people. The little female
Chihuahua is in a kimono costume, and the male Chihuahua will be in
a traditional black and white Japanese wedding costume.
While practicality is the order of the day, does Antoine
find some of the canine commerce ideas weird, and do Tokyo dog
owners pamper their pets too much?
I think it is not ridiculous, it is only the expressions of
affection that the owners have. I think it is good for owners to
show their affections, where there is no inhibition. But there are
some people who think that the idea is ridiculous. For instance, in
France, when I showed my friends the edited version of the video,
there are some people who see the idea as stupid, or there are some
who find the idea amazing. But for myself, I think that these people
are interesting because they love dogs, and they show it. They have
no inhibition about this. When they try to do something, they try to
do their best. For example, if you want a dog but you can¡¯t have a
dog, you can rent a dog. You know, they have a solution for
everything. I think it is in the Japanese mind to find a solution
for things, and they are very pragmatic about this. They will always
try to find a solution for things.
Given that trends are
seasonal in nature in Japan, what's Antoine's take on next season's
most fashionable pet in Tokyo?
It is always so amazing in Japan. Maybe next year, they may do
the same for rabbits or who knows. For instance, it is quite funny
for rabbits because dogs and cats are common, and now, they love
rabbits. I know of three newspapers that cater to pets and rabbit
owners. So next year, maybe they might want to do the same for
rabbits. Who knows?
Antoine Lassaigne, Director of the
documentary "Tokyo Dogs"
That's Business Ideas for you this
week. Join me at the same time, next week. For Radio Singapore
International, I'm Melanie Yip.
Photos courtesy of Animal Planet.
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Do not reproduce without permission.