Charles Dickens noticed in ‘Hard Times’ that people were becoming more like machines and that machines were at the same time becoming more human. Well replace machines with pets and you get an idea of how ‘unnatural’ Japan has become when it comes to its pets.
I went to my local Katakura Park and wondered up and down the aisles with a growing sense of bemusement and confusion. It was anthropomorphism gone nuts. I know someone painted eyes on rocks and sold them in the 70’s but the spectacle before my eyes surpassed the ‘rock con’ by a thousand times in its outrageous commercialism and sheer stupidity.
As I strolled through the shop I encountered a few cooing women but otherwise I was alone in the mecca of pet stuff. First up was the cute branded clothing and rainwear which in hindsight seemed quite sane compared to what was to follow.
Next up was nappies for dogs as well as piss absorbing mats for the discerning mutt who has discarded the cock-a-leg outside technique as passé. Not far away were handmade sweets which looked like mini puff éclairs and dog energy drinks called ‘Pet Sweat’ (not literally perspiration from Pet’s but an energy drink following the popular brand ‘Pocari Sweat’). So after your best friend has had his or her nappy changed, indulged in some handmade sweets and washed it down with some ‘Pet Sweat’ it’s time for a sleep; and to make sure nothing interrupts your pet why not buy a mosquito killing machine for the dog house?
Further down the aisle and fast doubting the Japanese belonged to the same species I passed the ‘Pets Own Milk’ and came to the zenith of absurdity – pet jewellery which included some nice crucifixes circa Madonna 1985 and dog purikura (cute-ized photo booth snaps).
Like someone confronting a Picasso for the first time I was in a state of distracted curiosity and somewhat enjoying it when I was bought crashing down to reality. There near the exit were the pets for sale section. The smell of slavery in Africa and human trafficking into Europe was in the air. After all I had gotten to think of the cute fellas as people and here they were in small glass and metal cages under bright lights being sold for 1000 US dollars a pop. Most of them wouldn’t look at me (unlike the doe eyed orphan looking to hook some parents), and those that did had the abject blankness of the broken spirited. And of course there was some Japanese middle aged woman cooing over the cages. I left in silence.