A trip to a Tokyo dog cafe and a chance encounter with a Shiba Inu master leads to an epiphany for our canine-loving reporter.

Our reporter Seiji Nakazawa has a problem that’s pretty common for people who live in Japan. He loves dogs, but his apartment doesn’t allow pets. So a while back, when Seiji found himself craving canine companionship, he headed over to a Shiba Inu cafe in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood.

But here’s the thing about Japan’s animal cafes: it’s really the animals who are in charge, and there are strict rules against pressuring the animals to play with you or forcibly picking them up. As a customer, Seiji was entitled to a seat and a drink, and that’s it.

So the trick when visiting is to figure out what will make the animals want to come over and play or cuddle with you. As Seiji sat down in the cafe, he looked around and saw that different customers all had their own way of trying to catch the Shiba’s eyes. Some patted their knees while sitting on the floor, trying to convey the message of “Here boy!” Others opted for attempts at verbal communication, trying to bark in as friendly a manner as their human vocal cords would allow.

But these customers were being almost entirely ignored. Instead, almost all the Shiba Inu were congregating around one young woman.

Not only was she the center of the dogs’ attention, she constantly had an adorable pooch on her lap, with a new one hopping up as soon as the previous occupant left. Filled with admiration, plus plenty of envy, Seiji wondered what her secret was. Was she wearing some sort of special perfume that was attracting the Shiba? Were they drawn to some aspect of her attire, like with the jeans that are supposed to make you extra-popular with cats in Japan?

After watching multiple dogs take turns sitting on her lap, though, Seiji realized why the dogs were lining up to play with her. The secret wasn’t what she was doing, but what she wasn’t doing.

Most of the time, when people at a dog cafe are trying to get a dog’s attention, they’re sitting like Seiji is here.

They’ve got their weight forward as they pat their knees, wave their hands, or hold up toys they think the dog might want to play with. However, there’s a problem with this strategy, in that it makes your lap small.

But the woman, who Seiji had come to think of as the Shiba Inu Master, wasn’t sitting like this at all, and she wasn’t using her hands to do anything other than support herself as she leaned back, like Seiji is demonstrating here.

That creates a wide, inviting space on your lap for the dog to frolic in, and by keeping her posture unchanged when one Shiba hopped off, the woman quickly had new furry friends eager for their turn.

By the time Seiji figured all this out, his 30 minutes in the cafe were almost up. Still he had a little bit of time left, and while following the Master’s example didn’t produce immediate results, it wasn’t too long before Seiji achieved sweet, adorable success.

So yes, once again Seiji learned that the secret to happiness is just relaxing and being yourself.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]