We visit the new cafe that aims to change people’s perception about pigs as livestock and promote them as beloved animals instead.

Japan might be well-known for its cat cafes, which allow wannabe cat owners to interact with felines, but over the years there’s been a rise in bunny, bird, and reptile cafes too.

Now, after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised 4.7 million yen (US$42,380) from supporters – more than twice its goal amount of 2 million yen – there’s a brand new cafe dedicated to micro pigs.

▼ Mipig cafe, which opened on 1 March, is located a 15-minute walk from Meguro Station.

With so much public support for the venture, it’s clear that people want to spend time with micro pigs, and this is something that Mipig is keen to encourage. Unlike countries such as the UK and US, where pigs have become popular as pets, in Japan pigs are still seen as livestock, so Mipig wants to help people become more familiar with the animal, and perhaps even have them take one home to become a beloved member of the family.

▼ Some of the world’s most famous micro pig owners include David and Victoria Beckham, and Ariana Grande.

The cafe is being run by a joint company that breeds pigs on a farm in Yamanashi Prefecture after first importing micro pigs from the UK earlier this year. The pigs at Mipig are extra small because they’re babies, but while regular pigs can grow to become 300 kilograms (661 pounds) and mini pigs can grow to 100 kilograms, the micro pigs at Mipig grow to 40 kilograms.

Image: Mipig

Keen to learn more about the cafe and their pigs, we headed down to the cafe to pay them a visit, and when we arrived, we found ourselves stepping into a newly refurbished four-storey space with lots of natural light and wooden embellishments.

▼ We couldn’t see any pigs at first, but then, looking more closely beneath the grassy wall, we spied them…a couple of micro pigs!

▼ The pigs seemed happy to welcome us with a series of cute oinks.

After sterilising our hands and receiving some guidelines from staff, we were guided into a separate room on the next level of the building, where we sat down on the floor and became acquainted with the pigs in our midst.

Unlike cats at cat cafes, who tend to sleep on high perches and turn their noses up at visitors, these micro pigs were surprisingly friendly and filled with energy, running around the room and sniffing the humans around them.

They were so active that we could barely snap a photo without them being blurred and out of focus.

While the pigs were relatively quiet, we had trouble containing our human squeals of delight as the little pigs playfully interacted with each other, trotting around on their hooves and rubbing their snouts over each other.

We were advised to simply sit still and let the pigs come to us, and while we wondered whether or not the little animals would take a liking to us, we were thrilled when one of the smallest members of the group approached.

▼ And then it happened! Not one but two pigs came and pushed their snouts into our side.

These pigs seemed intent on getting up onto our laps, so a staff member came over and gave us some instructions on how we should hold the piglets. It’s important to make sure that their legs remain on your lap, with one arm supporting their body while the other is free to give them all the pats they desire.

Once we had one of the pigs sitting on us comfortably, it immediately rested its face in the crook of our arm, content with the gentle strokes it was receiving. The small animal was warm and precious, and looking into its beautiful eyes as it enjoyed our company filled us with all the feels.

Then it was time to lavish some love and attention on another little friend, who wasn’t shy about wanting cuddles.

Stroking the pig’s stubbly fur was a little like stroking a lawn of clipped grass, and while most dogs and cats will leave you covered in fur after you’ve pet them, there wasn’t a speck of hair on our clothing after interacting with the pigs.

▼ The pigs were happy to play…

▼ Eat…

▼ And climb all over us.

And if you’re wondering what micro pigs smell like, they’re surprisingly odourless! If anything, they actually smelt good. We asked the staff whether this might be because they bathed every day, and the staff replied that the animals only get shampooed about once a week, as their natural body odour isn’t very strong.

Another thing that surprised us about the micro pigs is their intelligence and ability to learn tricks. Like dogs, pigs are quick learners and incredibly intelligent.

After falling in love with the pigs during our short visit, we spoke to the manager of the store and asked him if he could sum up the appeal of the micro pig in just one sentence. After thinking about it for a moment, he replied, “They’re dog-like cats”.

After spending a couple of hours with the animals, we have to agree. Like cats, these micro pigs are cute and adorable, but instead of strutting around with an air of feline-like aloofness, they’re incredibly friendly and eager to run up to you and play. This happy energy rubs off on visitors, who leave feeling less stressed after interacting with the piglets.

▼ Visitors are required to purchase at least one drink with each visit (prices start at 600 yen [US$5.38]), and there are cute pig-themed options on the menu too!

Bookings can be made online ahead of your visit, with 30-minute slots costing 800 yen, and each 30-minute extension costing 500 yen. In order to protect the health of the pigs, mipig asks that people refrain from visiting if they’re unwell, if they’ve visited China or other countries with an outbreak of African Swine Fever in the last two weeks, or if they’ve been in contact with other pigs in the last two days.

Whether you want to adopt a micro pig or simply hang out with one, mipig is the one place in Tokyo where you’ll be able to do it. And given its popluarity during its first month of opening, the cafe looks set to be as popular as the hedgehog cafe in Roppongi when it opened in 2016!

Cafe Information

mipig cafe / マイピッグカフェ
Address: Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Meguro 4-11-3
Hours: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Closed irregularly, depending on the condition of the animals

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