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Dogs Are Rapidly Replacing Children in Japan

Oh, to be a dog in Japan, which has far more pets than kids. And those pets enjoy pricey spa vacations, designer sunglasses, and their own chic hotels.

 |  Jun 13th 2012  |   10 Contributions


Dogs are rapidly replacing children -- loved, pampered, spoiled -- in the lives of an increasing number of Japanese who opt out of having kids. 

A Tokyo eye surgeon whose two dogs have their own bedroom and sport jeweled sunglasses, chic shoes, and designer clothes -- Chanel, Dior, Herm├Ęs, Gucci -- is typical, according to the Guardian

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In Tokyo, "a poodle pullover can cost $250 or more. In many parts of Tokyo, it is easier to buy clothes for dogs than for children," the Guardian reports. Boutiques sell items including frou-frou frocks and designer jeans, and doggie diapers are big sellers as well. Japan's pet industry includes doggie hot-springs resorts, doggie yoga classes, and restaurants where dogs dine on organic meals.

The Guardian reports that Japan is now home to "many more pets than children. While the birthrate has been falling dramatically ... Japan has become a pet superpower. Official estimates put the pet population at 22 million or more, but there are only 16.6 million children under 15."

Japan's plummeting birthrate of only 1.39 children per woman is worrying many social critics in that country. Some warn that it presages lonely lives for seniors in a nation where the elderly have always -- until now -- been lovingly cared for in the homes of their own children and grandchildren. It also marks a sharp cultural change in a country that has traditionally cherished children, with several holidays throughout the year -- Boys' Day, Girls' Day, 3-5-7 Day -- designated to celebrate children and childhood. 

"It's good to have a dog if you don't have a baby, because it is quite fun to take care of him like a baby," a Dachshund owner in Tokyo told the Guardian. "In Japanese society, it's really hard for women to have a baby and keep a job ... so my girlfriend decided against having a baby, and that's why we have a dog instead."

Family-planning researcher Kunio Kitamara attributes his country's low birthrate to "less sex." According to the Guardian, Kitamara found that 32 percent of young men have come to dislike sex out of fear of rejection, and that 70 percent of unmarried women don't have boyfriends. 

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Fancy buggies are another hot item as owners want to save their precious pets the trouble of actually walking. 

At doggie hot-springs resorts, $100 buys a swimming lesson, bubble bath, aromatherapy massage, deep-pore cleansing, mud-packs, and more -- for a dog. The same price also buys a night in one of Tokyo's dog hotels, which bear no resemblance to kennels. 

When life ends, Japan has temples where, for about $8,000, dead dogs are cremated with full Buddhist rites.

A monk at a temple near Tokyo told the Guardian. that he sees people grieving more for deceased pets than family members.

Creepy -- or not? Love is love. But that Dachshund won't be around to feed his owner 40 years from now.

Source: The Guardian

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