This bizarre cafe has opened its doors exclusively to help grieving animal lovers mourn their dead pets with a shoulder to cry on and a cup of coffee.
The Pet Loss Cafe, in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo, is attracting people from far and wide who are looking for a place to say goodbye to their furry friends without being ridiculed.
Customers are invited to fill out a form in which they answer questions about the animal they lost and whether they want to chat with staff or be left alone to grieve in peace.
Ritsuko Shimazaki, 58, regularly takes a 70-minute train journey to visit the coffee shop as she says it is the only place she can cry over her pet dog without caring what people think.
The mother-of-two said she had still not got over the loss of her Shih Tzu, Takeru, who died at the age of 16 just over a year ago.
Ms Shimazaki said she even had to see a doctor as she cried so much during the first few months after Takeru’s death she damaged a nerve in her eye.
She said: “I could not believe that this happened to me. When I heard the cafe was opening, I was really excited to come.”
Ms Shimazaki said she was still unable to walk along the paths where she once walked Takeru as she was worried about bumping into other dog owners who might ask what had happened to him.
The Pet Loss Cafe, which is decorated with bouquets of flowers, aims to offer a space for animal lovers to meet and talk about their beloved late pets.
It was launched by Dearpet, Japan’s biggest manufacturer of decorations for shrines to pets, inside its headquarters.
Company president Takeshi Nibe, 48, said: “Many customers who came to buy altar accessories said they felt more at ease after talking about their loss with our staff.”
But he said the sales attendants often had to leave grieving pet-owners to serve other customers.
“So, we decided to open a place where they can talk,” added Mr Nibe.
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Story By: Simon Glover, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News