Japan's Cafés Where People Can Pet Pigs
In Japan’s big cities, small restaurants that serve coffee, called cafés, are known for starting trends. First there were pet cafés, then cat cafés. The latest trend in Japan is a café that has pigs.
“It was wonderful. Very relaxing and enjoyable,” said Brad Loomis. He is a software engineer from the city of Pullman, in the U.S. state of Washington. He was talking about his recent visit to Tokyo’s Mipig Café with his 21-year-old daughter, Paige.
On a recent morning in late January, the father and daughter were among many people in the café, smiling and taking selfies with the pigs.
The pigs are very small. They move around the room, looking for a comfortable place. They are surprisingly quiet, making little snorts now and then. Unlike the stereotype, they are very clean and do not smell bad.
The pigs do not like to be alone. So, this makes them good company for people. Customers pay $15 for the first 30 minutes of time with a pig. Customers must contact the café to set a time for the experience.
The pig café is the latest in a series of coffee shops with animals that have appeared in Japan. There are coffee shops that have owls, hedgehogs, birds, and even snakes.
Some people have raised questions about whether animals enjoy the experience as much as humans do.
“It must be stressful to be touched…by a bunch of strangers,” said Sachiko Azuma. She is head of a Tokyo-based animal rights group called PEACE.
“The animals have become tools for a money-making business,” she said.
Her group opposes animal experiments and “petting zoos.” Azuma said cafés are small and do not provide enough of a natural environment for cats or small pigs. She added that businesses that entrap wildlife are abhorrent, or extremely bad. However, she said she approves of cafés run by shelters that try to find homes for homeless animals.
Some people believe that such interactions are good for human health.