I guess Japan is one of the few countries that really care for animals not only by law but also by normal people you can meet on the streets. I do not have a pet in our house because 1) I do not want to undergo a tedious process of producing clearances and paying hell a lot to be allowed to have a pet at home; 2) our building do not allow pets inside the unit; and 3) it is very expensive to maintain a pet here especially in Tokyo. But these do not hinder to love animals. In fact, most of my travels here are going to the zoos, aquariums, and parks. Something that I do not usually do when I was in Manila.
I would say that Japan is a haven for animal lovers especially those who have pet dogs and cats at home. Here are some reasons why I said so:
1. Pets are treated as babies
If you think that putting your Chihuahua or Pug in a bag is so hip, then you are so last last year. Nowadays, these little cuties are in a carriage similar to those for babies. So do not fret when you meet an old lady pushing a stroller because it is not a baby but a puppy.
2. Pet necessities like food, clothes, and accessories have its own section in almost every grocery or drug store.
Aside from the usual specialty shops that only caters to animal needs, you can easily find a row or a full shelf just for animal necessities in almost all major shopping establishments like Aeon, Daiso, Ito Yokaddo, and even in the convenient stores like 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart.
3. Cafes for animals are in increasing number
Before there were only Neko Cafes that allows cat-lovers to share a cup of coffee or tea with their Siamese or Persian cat. And then Dog Cafes came in the picture. In Aeon here in Nishi-Kasai, there is a restaurant only for dogs. Sometime last year, my friend and I discovered Tori Cafe in Kiba that features owls. We were lucky that time because we just need to order a drink and then we can touch and have picture with the owls. A few weeks after that, my friend told me that people need to pay around 500 yen separately to be able to have some quality time with the owls.
4. Zoos and Aquariums are crowded especially during weekends and holidays
Because of their accessibility and low entrance fees, zoos and aquariums tend to be one of the preferred places to visit for kids and kids-at-heart here in Japan next to the shopping centers and shrines. Not only they cater to a huge variety of species from allover the world but some of these recreational areas allow people to touch and play with the animals. In Ueno and Gyosen Park, kids and adults are allowed to hold farm and domesticated animals like rabbits, hamsters, goats, sheeps, chicken, and ducks.
Also, aquariums in Sunshine 60 in Ikebukuro and Shinagawa offers free shows featuring dolphins and seals.
So the next time that you are in Japan particularly in Tokyo and you terribly miss your buddy at home, have a cup of coffee with a dog; a cat; or a bird, enjoy an animal show, or just buy your buddy a nice souvenir.