By María Roldán
Tokyo, Mar 31 (EFE).- The latest gizmos and gadgets for pet-lovers went on show at the Interpets convention in Tokyo Thursday, where visitors can ponder cutting-edge nutritional food, the freshest fashion trends for our furry friends as well as post-mortem services.
As many as 36,000 participants are expected to attend the Interpets fair, which until April 3 will bring together more than 450 businesses, organizers said.
This year’s convention is the largest since its inception in 2011 and while the first day of the agenda is limited to cooperate guests, many of those in attendance brought their pets along.
One such person was Tomomi Adachi, owner of the Wanchika Chiba cafe, where visitors can enjoy a drink surrounded by dozens of dogs.
Princess Maria, a poodle, could also be seen strutting through the convention center wearing a designer suit by high-end brand Yumi Katsura.
Japan’s pet market is currently worth an estimated 1.5 billion yen ($12.3m) and is on the up with an expected annual growth of 3%, according to the Yano Research Institute.
It was also one of the few sectors that benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, an additional 876,000 Japanese decided to bring a cat or a dog into their lives, a considerable 17.74% uptick from the previous year.
By 2021, there were an estimated 7.1 pet dogs and 8.9 million pet cats in Japan, according to the national pet food association.
Pet fairs like Interpets, which originally focused on basic amenities such as leashes, anti-parasite collars and food, have evolved to showcase more high-tech products in a sign that the Japanese increasingly regard their pets as another member of the family.
One of those cutting-edge products at Interpets is Langualess, a specialized dog harness with a built-in heart monitor capable of sending data to the owner’s cellphone.
But it is not just gadgets, new services have sprouted up in the industry from special hotels offering training and dietary courses to tailored insurance plans.
There are services on offer for those who want to plan for every pet-owner’s most-dreaded moment, from special funerals to taxidermy.
Shinjusou, a company founded in the Goto Islands in Nagasaki, offers to turn the bones of deceased pets into pearls.
“With care, we introduce a small fragment of bone in an Akoya pearl oyster and after a year or a year and a half, they are ready and shine again,” Yoshiki Matsushita, the brains behind the innovative business, tells Efe. EFE