When you want a bit of animal (or insect) companionship, but without having to be responsible for keeping your friend alive – Japan’s gadget makers have you covered. Aside from the large range of robotic pets aimed at the family market, there are plenty of smaller options perfect for your office. Because let’s face it – where do we need cheering up? At home or during those long hours in front of the computer?
Our favorite desktop-friendly “pets” below…
Virtual ant farm
In terms of interactivity, the Ant’s Life Studio tops this roundup. Watching your ants build their nest, gather food and attack intruders is a welcome break from TPS-report drudgery. And when you want to give your ants a helping hand + more
Has it really been 5 months since I last posted a video of Japan’s biggest YouTube celebrity, Maru the Cat? Grievous oversight. Let’s rectify that immediately.
Tokyo, for all its cramped and crowded nature, is still a very fine place to live. But for dogs (and many cats), it seems to be a veritable heaven on earth. Let’s see just how well some of the capital’s most spoiled animals really live…
Cruising in style
They’re all over Tokyo. Don’t ask me why.
Imagine this scene – you’re + more
Tomorrow is “Pet Dog Day,” an informal celebration of man’s best friend declared by the Japan Kennel Club in honor of, well, the anniversary of the founding of the Kennel Club. None of us have dogs at the moment, but our offices are overflowing with robotic pets (we do run a gadget store after all). So we thought it best to mark this day by showing off 2 of our favorite dog robots (and a few other pets as well).
Dream Dog DX
The Rolls Royce of robotic pets. This Golden Retriever responds to petting with realistic sounds and body movements, he can sniff and chew and responds to 6 different English-language commands (like “sit” and “shake”). I once ran into a Dream Dog DX on the floor of a popular toy stores. The kids couldn’t get enough, and there was a long line to try him out. Not hard to see the appeal. See what else the Dream Dog DX can do
Dacky goes less for realism and more for cute. After all, I don’t know many real dogs that sing lullabies or tell you long stories in Japanese. But he does move and blink, and when you factor in that Dacky will never chew your favorite shoes or leave a mess on your carpet, he makes a pretty fine companion. Read more about the Dacky robotic dog toy
We couldn’t leave out Hamster Yume, the smallest of the robotic pets we sell. This little fellow is a good fit for fans of the cute and fuzzy. He can do a little hamster dance (no, not *that* hampster dance) and generally up the adorable-factor in your life. More about the Hamster Yume
Dream Cat Venus
The Tokyo Bounce team, we’re cat people. So we love Yume Neko Venus, who can groom herself, purr, react to your petting and more. And did we mention no allergies or litter boxes? Get the details on Dream Cat Venus
Last Sunday we had local elections in Tokyo. It was such a relief, because the election meant the end of obnoxious campaigning. This video covers the basic tactics hopeful politicians take. Head directly to the 3:30 mark to see the most famous and annoying type of campaigning you’ll encounter in Japan.
And if that video seems a bit too serious, you may prefer this 11 second gem…
Japan doesn’t have the best reputation for animal rights. But there are plenty of people trying to do right by the domestic cats and dogs who got left behind in the rush to evacuate the homes within 10 kilometers of the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant. If you watch to the end, you can see the animals being screened for radiation to make sure they’re OK to be put into new homes or a shelter.
Relaxed kitty, enjoying the weekend scene in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.
Today is Cat Day in Japan. Apparently it’s because the noise a cat makes in Japanese (“nyan nyan”) bears a passing resemblance to the way “2″ is pronounced (“ni”). So 2/22 is Cat Day. Well, why not?
In honor of this special occasion, I scoured YouTube for the best Japanese kitty video I could find (this may have been the high point of my blogging career thus far). So now, for your Cat Day viewing pleasure, I present the introductory video for one of YouTube’s most famous Japanese cat idols, Maru-chan.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, I recommend you skip to 4:19 and watch the sequence of Maru-chan diving headfirst into empty beer cartons.
Took a short hop on the bullet train recently to visit some of the in-laws. We could take an ordinary express train and save some money, but there’s a certain thrill factor when the needle-nosed bullet train pulls up at the platform and you hop on board. The shinkansen has a few other benefits as well – #1 being the JR shopping catalog thoughtfully placed in each seatback.
I flipped past the various food ads – I was not interested in seeing anything as useful as edible treats. I wanted to see the deluxe camping toilets, the incredibly specialized gardening tools, in short, the insane products that we love so much here in Japan.
But I quickly landed upon something entirely unexpected… + more
Westerners don’t have a monopoly on humiliating their cats for the benefit of YouTube viewers it seems…