[S2E25] 😸 Pets & Animal Cafés with Brittany Rapone

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Oliver is joined by Brittany Rapone, PhD candidate at the School of Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, to discuss attitudes towards pets and animal cafés in Japan. Brittany walks us through the cultural commonality of human-animal relationships and the “rent-a-pet” model of animal cafés in Japan, providing the iyashi, or “comfort”, of animal interaction at an hourly rate.


Recommended reading

Wildlife being imported into Japan for exotic pets. From an NPO called TRAFFIC that often uses in-country Japanese researchers:

  • Ishihara A, Kanari K, Saito T, et al. (2010) The state of wildlife trade in Japan, Tokyo: TRAFFIC East Asia-Japan.
  • Kitade TN, Yui. (2020) Crossing the red line: Japan’s exotic pet trade. Tokyo, Japan: TRAFFIC, Japan Office.
  • Wakao K, Janssen J and Cheng S. (2018) Scaling Up: The Contemporary Reptile Pet Market in Japan. TRAFFIC Bulletin 30: 8.

Progression of cat cafés and exotic animal cafés throughout East and Southeast Asia (useful graphs):

  • McMillan SE, Dingle C, Allcock JA, et al. (2020) Exotic animal cafes are increasingly home to threatened biodiversity. Conservation Letters.

Three articles on ethnographic work on cat café’s in Japan. Addresses iyashi and the contributing factors for the need of iyashi Japanese society:

  • Niijima N. (2016) Chats, Cats and a Cup of Tea: A Sociological Analysis of the Neko Café Phenomenon in Japan. In: Pręgowski MP (ed) Companion Animals in Everyday Life. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, 269-282.
  • Plourde L. (2014) Cat Cafés, Affective Labor, and the Healing Boom in Japan. Japanese Studies 34: 115-133.
  • Robinson AS. (2019) Finding healing through animal companionship in Japanese animal cafés. Medical Humanities 45: 190-198.

Overview of the history of pets in japan and them being ‘family’:

  • Hansen P. (2013) Urban Japan’s “Fuzzy” New Families: Affect and Embodiment in Dog–Human Relationships. Asian Anthropology 12: 83-103.

Pets as ‘family’ and info on pet cemeteries in Japan:

  • Veldkamp E. (2009) The Emergence of “Pets as Family” and the Socio-Historical Development of Pet Funerals in Japan. Anthrozoös 22: 333-346.

Image and audio credits

Intro-outro music: jasonszklarek / MotionElements.com

[L] Cat café photo provided by Brittany Rapone.

[R] “Enticing for an owl cafe” by neil.dalphin is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Copyright © 2022 Oliver Moxham, ℗  2022 Oliver Moxham. May be freely distributed for education purposes.

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