Go for the Latte, Stay for This Guy

Japan brings us the hottest new trend, the pig cafe
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2024 12:55 PM CST
Go for the Latte, Stay for This Guy
Customers play with micro pigs at the Mipig Cafe in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

First there were cafes that allowed pets. Then came cat cafes, where lattes took second place to feline interaction. The latest craze in Japan: The pig cafe. "It was wonderful. Very relaxing and enjoyable," said Brad Loomis, a software engineer from Pullman, Washington, after visiting Tokyo's Mipig Cafe with his 21-year-old daughter, Paige. They were among dozens of customers on a recent morning, taking selfies and breaking into huge smiles. The micro pigs, a miniature breed, trotted about the room, looking for a cozy lap. The pigs are surprisingly quiet, although they do snort now and then. They don't like to be alone, making for great companionship. Unlike the stereotype, they're very clean and don't smell. Customers pay $15 for the first 30 minutes and the pigs require a reservation, per the AP.

"Each pig ... has his or her own personality. You may notice one may be strong-headed, and another may be gentle," says Shiho Kitagawa, an exec at Mipig. The Mipig Cafe in fashionable Harajuku is among 10 such cafes the operator has opened around Japan. The animals don't get bigger than a corgi, even as adults. They can be purchased for about $1,350 from Mipig, have already been house-trained and are used to being with people. Mipig says it has sold 1,300 pigs as pets. A drink dispensing machine is in the corner of the café, but hardly anyone was bothering to get a drink, being too occupied with the pigs.

Some have raised ethical questions. "It must be stressful to be touched and fondled by a bunch of strangers," says Sachiko Azuma, head of Tokyo-based PEACE, which stands for Put an End to Animal Cruelty and Exploitation. "The animals have become tools for a money-making business," she says. Meanwhile, Dr. Bruce Kornreich, professor of clinical sciences at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, says there's "mounting evidence that associating with and owning pets can provide mental health and physical health benefits for people." Whatever it is, with dogs or pigs, people are soothed and happy. "Very cute and very sleepy," Paige Loomis said of the pigs. "They made me sleepy."

(More pigs stories.)

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