Do you have the desire to travel, but for some reason you can’t leave right now? Well, thanks to a Japanese travel agency, you can live vicariously through your stuffed toys as they travel around the country, and even around the world. Yes, you heard it right, stuffed animals can now go on travel tours, all for ¥2,000 (about US$20) per animal.
What might sound like a joke or a plot to a light romantic indie film is an actual business for Unagi Travel, the Japanese tour company that organizes these field trips for the stuffed toys. The company’s owner, 38-year-old Sonoe Azuma, got the idea when she started bringing her handmade stuffed eel during her trips and putting up a sort of travelogue for the toy on her blog. It became a hit among her friends and so she decided to launch the travel agency, targeting people who are not able to travel but can pay for their stuffed animals to do the traveling for them. It started out with word-of-mouth promotions, but eventually they got really popular and organizes as many as 10 trips every month. As of today, there are more than 200 satisfied stuffed toys who have made their way around Izumo in Shimane Prefecture, Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, and some have even made it as far as the United States.
But just who are these people who can spend all this money for their inanimate stuffed animals yet can’t do the traveling themselves? Well, some are too sick to travel right now but because of the exploits of their toys, they are inspired and are able to set a goal for themselves to travel on their own soon. Still, there are those who cannot travel because of their jobs but enjoy seeing the toys “interact” with their fellow travelers. A professor from Ochanomizu University, Nario Ihara, says that stuffed animals fill the role of the “imaginary companion”, something adults are supposed to outgrow but can also serve as an “intermediary” for people who are trying to take a major next step in their lives. Azuma says that she would like to see the owners of the traveling animals take a big step forward, starting maybe with going on their own travels.
[ via MSN ]