Julie Wolfson in Japan

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My friend Julie Wolfson is in Japan, and is sharing some of her photos. This is from a pet store in Roppongi, where the puppy cubicles face the street.

UPDATE: Boing Boing reader Goemon has an interesting comment about this place. He says:

That pet store runs a scam with the hostesses in the area:

The hostess walks by with her "john" and coos about how cute a puppy is. The john is convinced to buy her the puppy/fashion accessory/sex token.

After leaving her john later that night, the hostess returns the puppy to the pet store to get her cut of the sale.

And the cycle continues.

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  1. Just out of the picture to the right is a bin where you can responsibly dispose of your dog once he is no longer an adorable fashion accessory.

  2. That pet store runs a scam with the hostesses in the area:

    The hostess walks by with her “john” and coos about how cute a puppy is. The john is convinced to buy her the puppy/fashion accessory/sex token.

    After leaving her john later that night, the hostess returns the puppy to the pet store to get her cut of the sale.

    And the cycle continues.

  3. Yep, well do I know the place. Believe it or not, this is actually one of the LESS depressing pet stores, in terms of animals’ space and accommodations.

    And before anybody else freaks out about the prices, know that all those animals are pure bred. Since Japan has only a few ‘native’ breeds of animals that can be pets, they don’t bother importing or selling anything that isn’t a pure bred, and all pets’ neutering and shots are included in the base price. And pet breeding? tightly controlled (it’s a real space issue). Even in other countries, pure bred puppies and kittens go for thousands, so it’s not that unrealistic.

  4. Even more interesting…

    A lot of places in Japan don’t allow you to keep pets in your home so there are ‘live museums’ for cats and dogs where you can pay a small admission and then play with cats (for example) and then go home to where you aren’t allowed to have a cat.

    I went to this place when I was in japan a few years back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nekobukuro

  5. As with all posts/comments about Japan, remember that some are real, some are subject to the author’s interpretation and some are urban legends.

    I can vouch for the cat ‘live museums’ though; I’ve been to one. It was much more enjoyable than actually owning a cat.

  6. Hmmm, I work in this area – not sure about that ‘scam’ someone posted earlier. I really doubt any salariman drops 200,000 yen on a pet for a girl they already paying 20,000+ just to hang out with for a few hours?

    One thing is for sure – they love their miniature pure-breeds here. They are everywhere and cause many people to believe Japanese couples are for-going the child-rearing for these, less problematic / stressful / etc , off spring….

    1. $1600 US for a puppy?!

      If it’s a hostess scam, the puppy is the equivalent of the bottle of champagne that you have to buy at a brothel.

  7. Aww goodness. I lived five minutes from this store in the American Embassy compound just last year… I’ve only ever been in once though ^^

    Gotta love living in Roppongi

  8. I think that would only qualify as a scam if you were expecting a genuine experience with your rented date.

  9. thank God I live in Indonesia,
    you could get a pet on the street for free,
    but beware of sick puppy or cat because sometime
    they brought rabies .

  10. wow, i’ve been to this place too. i have a video but i was so drunk in it i’d be too ashamed to post.

  11. Anonymous @ #4 or Danback @ #16 could corroborate the story:

    I have to ask—–were either of you there with a prostitute?

  12. I also visited this store at the beginning of the year. There is a small monkey up on the second floor in what looked like a largish round bird cage. I’m certainly no vet, but the monkey seemed distressed at the very least, and quite possibly mentally damaged at the worst, as it would frantically run around the cage, come back to the perch, scratch itself then run around again, scratch itself, run around, scratch itself…

  13. That pet store runs a scam with the hostesses in the area
    I run an adoption agency and we do the same thing. Small world.

  14. I was at a pet store in Saitama where they had a bunch of cats for sale, all of them in the $500 and up range. One, going for around $700 if I recall correctly, was an exotic “American Short Hair”, a gray striper that would go for a pittance down at the pound back home. Meanwhile the streets are full of strays, many of which I feed surreptitiously.

    It’s ridiculous. And even more ridiculous is that every Japanese needs some cute little pure-bred dog, not more than a handful, while tons of wonderful but unrecognizable breeds are killed every day at the pound. I don’t know about this “tight breeding control” — I saw a TON of animals down at the pound, many who would make wonderful pets, most that had parents whose breeding had not been tightly controlled.

    Regarding the monkey — there are no laws in Japan against animal cruelty, or certainly none that are enforced.

  15. It doesn’t necessary have to be a hostess scam (though I wouldn’t exclude the possibility). But these pets are marketed to hostesses who walk past and late at night might feel the need for something to love, something tiny and cute and cuddly, something that loves them just for themselves.
    Hostesses aren’t prostitutes, actually, they work on the “well, maybe” they provide company and not sexual services, it’s all about the “well, it might happen”, that is what keeps the customers coming back.
    I wouldn’t exclude hostesses who do have sex with their customers, but usually it’s not part of the deal.

    1. benher,

      I give up. I can’t read it and I can’t figure out how the Tokugawa mon figures in this thread.

  16. @#17 – Nope, I was not there with a prostitute. I was touring Japan with a band and after our last show at the Tokyo Budokan we partied all night. I was REALLY drunk when we happened upon this store. That happened a lot while I was there for some reason.

  17. @JTEGNELL:
    It’s ridiculous. And even more ridiculous is that every Japanese needs some cute little pure-bred dog, not more than a handful, while tons of wonderful but unrecognizable breeds are killed every day at the pound.

    This phenomenon is definitely not unique to Japan. It’s a First World thing.

  18. Obviously something getting lost in translation when the john asks the hostess to get her puppies out.

  19. @26: It’s not just a first world thing, either. In my part of the world (definitely not first world), breeds are seen as a status symbol, so people will spend hundreds on a purebred dog, while thousands upon thousands roam the streets. I’ve rescued nine of those non-purebreds from the streets myself. For some reason, poodles are really big here, but no one takes care of them properly (high maintenance dog, really), so they end up matted and ugly and get dumped.

  20. There’s also a puppy superstore in “palette town”,Mitaka. They’re in those little glass boxes along most of one side of the wall.

    The shop also sells dog strollers and dog clothes,all the myriad types of puppy and dog food and even has a pharmacy.

  21. Here’s a close-up I took of the same pet store banner. Aside from the freaky murder cat & micro-corgy, note the monkeys & small roo advertised.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/21872990@N00/1520389431/in/set-72157602326067886/

    I was in Tokyo about a year and a half ago. At the time, my partner & I marveled at the seeming absence of cats anywhere in within the Yamanote line. The only ones we found were in this and another pet store selling for ~$2300.

    People, I have 4 cats and let me tell you they are never ever *EVER* going to be worth $2k each.

  22. They have these same puppy cubicle pet stores in the USA too, I saw one in a mall in L.A.

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