Japan is famous for restaurants with unique themes, such as ninjas, robots, Hello Kitty, and trains, that not only can be seen in the décor, but even in the food they serve. But a rising kind of eatery gets its uniqueness not from the theme or food, but with the guests they welcome in the establishment. More than 200 establishments in Japan have opened their doors to pets, so they can dine alongside their owners during a meal.
Found in Kawachinagano in the prefecture of Osaka, the Yotsuba barbecue restaurant is one of the many eateries in Japan that allows pets inside their establishments. The restaurant has been scrambling to make it big since it opened in July 2012, but after it started welcoming four-legged customers to its service in February 2013, sales have continued to increase. Owner Yuki Kumaoka said, “We have become more popular than we expected.” In fact, January 2014 sales were 50 percent higher than last year at the same month. He added, “It is hard to clean dog hair. But the dogs that come to our restaurant are properly trained.” 63-year old Shigeki Ueda from Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture, who blogs about his pet toy poodle, has been inside more than a hundred pet-friendly restaurants and stores. In the western parts of Japan around Osaka, more than 10 restaurants currently allow guests to dine with their pets.
While the number of restaurants open to pets has increased, other places have taken back their assent for pets. Ueda noted that, “It is taboo for customers to allow dogs to put their paws on the table or use the same dishes for humans.” Adding that pet owners must abide by the restaurant’s rules or those “open to pets will decrease.” 51-year old Kaoru Tomita discovered Yotsuba in April 2013 and has dined there with her two toy poodles on an average of three times a month. “We want to go out to eat, but we feel sorry when we have to leave the dogs, which are members of our family, at home,” she said.
Yonedaya restaurant in Sanda, Hyogo Prefecture has been allowing pets to eat with their owners in their establishment for a decade already. An estimated 21.28 million dogs and cats were taken care of as pets in 2012, a 4.64 million jump from 2002, according to the Japan Pet Food Association. As the number of pets began to top the number of children aged 15 years and under, a rising number of dogs kept indoors can also be seen. An official from Shobunsha Publications Inc., which has printed a guidebook for restaurants that allow pets, said that in previous years, pets were considered guard dogs for the homes of their owners. However, recent times have changed owners’ perspective and “now they are serving as ‘children’ for their owners.”
[via Asahi Shimbun]