Last updated 5/25/22
Konnichiwa, is Japan dog-friendly? Hai, you betcha! Unlike its Asian neighbors who get a bad rep for dog meat consumption, Japan has transformed into an ultra dog (and cat) loving society over the years. Don’t believe my barks? Sniff out what my pawsome furry friends are saying about living the dog life in Japan!
Dog-Friendly Japan: Japanese Dog Lifestyle
Junko a.k.a. Angelina
Hailing from Tokyo with a second home in West Japan, Junko is one classy Yorkshire Terrier with a cheerful personality. This cutie sports her very own Louis Vuitton carrier along with other luxurious purses that she can fabulously fit inside. Although she eats both homemade and canned dog food, she can be found dining at upscale restaurants, cafes, and coffee stands throughout Tokyo (and she’s always perfectly groomed and wearing the chicest pink and lavender outfits). This girl also loves a good game of fetch, but will only play at home (not at a park). According to Junko, it’s easy to find a veterinarian in Tokyo (although finding a good one may be more difficult). She says the best part about life in Japan is that most Japanese people are nice to dogs. 🙂 Not to mention, Japan has a wider variety of dog clothes compared to other countries (I agree!) along with safe and healthy dog food. She recommends taking your dog to Karuizawa, Nagano – a mountain resort with numerous dog-friendly hotels and restaurants, as well as spacious dog parks. Junko really wants Americans to know that Japanese people love dogs and do NOT have a tradition of dog meat consumption unlike other Asian countries.
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Another sophisticated city girl, Rouge is an adorable, well-pampered small poodle in Tokyo who loves strolling everywhere and cuddling with her daddy. She even gets massages ON DEMAND every morning in bed! After losing her dear older brother (Yorkshire Terrier) and sister (Maltese), she hates being left alone without her parents. 🙁 Although her parents want to feed her veterinarian-recommended food for senior poodles, this girl loves her beef steak and rice (ARF, I love a girl who has an appetite like mine :)). According to Rouge, nearly 13% of Japan’s population has pets at home. And, her hometown Tokyo boasts luxurious pet salons and pet-friendly shops. Although a larger percentage of Kagawa prefecture’s population has dogs, Rouge believes that Tokyo is the best place to live with dogs as the city has the best access to salons, hotels, and veterinarians. Many veterinarians also operate salons inside their offices. Not only are dogs allowed in restaurants and beaches, but Japan also has dog parks and dog-friendly cafes on the top floors of department stores! Many resorts throughout the country also welcome dogs with dog parks, agility areas, groomers, dog-friendly swimming pools, and even dog-friendly onsens (Japanese hot springs). A number of these dog-friendly resorts also allow dogs to roam off-leash indoors. As you can imagine, Rouge’s furry American friends are having an amazing time in Japan!
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From the Itoshima region in the Fukuoka prefecture, Semmel is a gorgeous Labrador Retriever who lives in the countryside with his cat sibling Kaiser (Scottish Fold) and loving parents. He says the best part about life in Japan is that there are four seasons – all of which are not so extreme. Japan also comprises islands, which means easy access to the sea and mountains. With excellent dog runs in Itoshima, Semmel enjoys running and wrestling with his good canine buddies. He loves eating yogurt and hates it when his parents are away at work (GRR, I know the feeling!). He has a happy smile and a perky tail that his parents love so much. The most expensive purchase his parents have made for him is health insurance, which can be very costly in Japan. Fortunately, he has had the same trustworthy veterinarian since birth, located near his house. The closest 24-hour emergency hospital is approximately 30-minutes away in the city of Fukuoka. Luckily, Semmel hasn’t had any need for one (Whew!). According to him, Tokyo and Osaka (or anywhere near the big cities) are the most dog-friendly areas in Japan as they have a myriad of dog-friendly facilities and hotels. Despite his hometown’s relative lack of dog-friendly places, he and his family are satisfied with their countryside lifestyle where they can enjoy the beautiful nature. In the last several decades, dogs have become happier in Japan; historically, they used to live outside as guard dogs, but eventually became family and now live inside the home. 🙂 Nevertheless, small dogs in Japan have it easier than big dogs like Semmel. For example, public transportation will not allow big dogs onboard since the transit rule only permits dogs under 10 kg. As his parents used to live in Germany and saw happy dogs everywhere, they hope the Japanese dog laws will improve in the future.
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Sweet Koa is a handsome Yorkshire Terrier who lives in the Shiga prefecture with his parents and human baby sibling. Like Semmel, Koa also thinks that Japan is a wonderful country for dogs because of its four seasons; pretty flowers in Spring, playtime in the river and sea during Summer, fallen leaves + delicious food during Autumn, and snow play in the Winter. When it gets cold, Koa likes to curl up and sleep on the same futon with his family. He loves playing with toys, especially a game of fetch with his humans. Like me, he HATES baths (AAAHHH, YUCK!). With large dog runs and the massive Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture is a convenient place for dogs to live. Koa loves walking around Lake Biwa, which is the largest freshwater lake in Japan. Finding a reliable veterinarian is also not difficult in Shiga (but her mom always checks the reviews before going). 24-hour-emergency care is also easily accessible 30-minutes by car. Koa would like to tell Americans that dogs are important members of the family in Japan, where dogs can experience nature and fun things with their humans. 🙂
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Graceful Lady is a much-loved Border Collie from Tokyo, where many huge dog-friendly parks, restaurants, and cafes have sprung up in the middle of the city. Dogs can even go to bars and jinja karaoke, making Tokyo’s dog-friendly list endless. Lady, who has one mesmerizing blue eye, loves long walks and apples, but HATES baths like me and Koa. She may eat a lot of vegetables, but she will turn her nose up at cucumbers – she hates them! Her actor/model daddy loves her (and her sweet personality) so much that he even custom made a power stone pendant for her collar, which is the same price as A PAIR OF ARMANI JEANS! WOOF, bark about living the high life. According to Lady, her hometown Tokyo is the best city for dogs. Her vet is only a 2-minute walk from their residence with a 24-hour emergency vet 10-minutes by car. She would like to let Americans know that Japanese people LOVE dogs. 🙂 Unfortunately, Asia has gotten a bad rep due to known human consumption of dog meat (as documented in many parts of the world), but Japan is NOT included on the list of countries that consume dogs.
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Charismatic Kohane is another Yorkshire Terrier who lives a deservingly spoiled dog life in Yokohama. His name in Japanese (こはね) means “tiny wing”; as a puppy, he had the cutest small eyebrows that looked like wings! This Yorkie is oh-so-loved that his daddy even moved to a dogs-allowed residence just for him. 🙂 Kohane says that urban areas like Tokyo and his home prefecture Kanagawa are delightful places to live with dogs as there are a plethora of dog-friendly cafes, restaurants, and parks. Although 24-hour emergency hospitals aren’t too close to his house, he can easily find veterinarians and animal hospitals within proximity. In addition to his routine neighborhood walks (that never fail to excite him every single time), he also loves eating fruit (especially apples), sleeping, and breaking toys. Even though he has an innocent look, Kohane isn’t a dog who’s afraid to show his emotions – he gets angry with his daddy for using his iPhone (WOOF, I like a dog with character!). According to Kohane, the best areas to live with dogs in Japan ultimately depend on the size of the dog. As larger dogs thrive in larger living quarters, the countryside would be more suitable for them since the high densely populated cities tend to have smaller residences. He and his daddy enjoy keeping up with the Yorkies in America through IG – they’ve come across lots of Yorkies named Chewbacca!
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Born in Okinawa, Cope is one charming Chihuahua Poodle in Yokohama with a unique “white high sock” on his left front leg. He says the best part about life in Japan is the peacefulness of the country. Lovable Cope loves eating roasted sweet potatoes (YUM, me too) but HATES getting vaccinated (GRR, I feel his pain!). As you can see on his IG, he frequently hangs out at cafes and even shops with his mommy in fancy purses. He also rides in a pricey car dog seat whenever he’s on the road with his mommy, who is in love with Cope’s beautiful eyes. 🙂
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Also hailing from Yokohama, Koko is yet another stylish female Yorkshire Terrier who flaunts such a posh life that makes even humans envious. 🙂 As you can tell from her IG, she is quite the canine model and socialite with her extravagant dresses, girly bows, and colorful hair clips (I love her long, flawless hair!). Koko loves taking walks, exploring dog parks, and eating chicken. In addition to dog-friendly beaches in her hometown, she hangs out at harbors and swimming pools. To her, the best part about living in Japan is the countless dog-friendly hotels, which clearly implies that the Japanese love to travel with their dogs. Veterinarians and 24-hour emergency hospitals are also easy to find near her home in Yokohama. Whether she’s walking on her elegant paws or traveling by her ultra-expensive stroller, she meets up frequently with A LOT of other fashionable Yorkies wearing darling kimonos and matching outfits.
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Eddie is a long-haired Dachshund who lives a tail-wagging life with his daddy. Since his daddy is part of a rock band in the Ehime prefecture, we can only assume that Eddie has a keen ear for great music! He loves riding in his daddy’s cool Jeep, napping at home, and eating potatoes (YUM!). You will find him on IG happily posing next to guitars, and of course, the shiny red Jeep. Hence, it’s no secret that Eddie lives a good life. He says that the veterinarians near his home are excellent and reliable. Oh yea, he wants to give furry Americans a pleasant bark (Oops, I mean greeting)!
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Minnie and Mickey
Minnie and Mickey are two adorable long-haired Chihuahuas (black and brown) living it up in Japan. They love eating rice and a variety of delicious snacks. Although they love walks with their mommy, they can also be found out and about in a fancy stroller. Like me, they despise toothpaste and brushing their teeth. YUCK, I hate it too! You can find Minnie and Mickey roaming around inside and outside their home, snuggling with each other on the couch, and eyeing watermelons and Japanese goodies, as seen on their IG.
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Dog-Friendly Japan: Dog Travel to Japan
WOOF, you wanna travel to Japan with your dog?
Before you book that long-haul flight to dog-friendly Japan, you must know how to get your dog into Japan. Due to Japan’s elite status as a rabies-free country, the animal import requirements are stricter than other dog-loving countries. Unless you’re coming from another rabies-free country (Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, or Guam), you will have to go through a rather lengthy process that includes a 180-day waiting period and 40-day advanced notification. However, the good news is that if you’ve followed all the instructions carefully and have all your paperwork in line, your dog will only be in quarantine for LESS THAN 12 hours. I’ve heard of stories of quarantines lasting only 30 minutes upon arrival! Nonetheless, I wouldn’t recommend putting your dog through the process for a short 2-3 week vacation. If you’re able to stay in Japan for at least 3 months, then it might be worth the hassle.
As Japan is one of my human’s favorite countries in the world, she has done a lot of research and even visited Narita and Kansai Airports to obtain information on the animal import process. Here’s what you need to travel to Japan with your dog:
Step 1: Microchip (ISO standard, 15-digit microchip code) – If you’ve traveled to Europe with your dog before, then you’re all set with the first step.
Step 2: TWO Rabies Vaccinations (AT LEAST twice) – Yes, you read that correctly. Not one, but TWO. This is when the process starts to get a little tricky. There must be a 30-day gap between the first vaccination and the second vaccination. The reason that your dog must get vaccinated twice is that a single rabies vaccination may not result in sufficient immunity in some cases. Make sure your dog gets the INACTIVATED (killed) virus vaccine. I had the live virus vaccine in Europe, which is NOT accepted by Japan. I’m no vaccine expert, but from what I know – live virus vaccines use the weakened form of the virus while killed or inactivated are from a protein or small pieces taken from a virus.
Step 3: Rabies Antibody Test – After two rabies vaccinations, your dog must get a blood test to ensure that he or she has developed antibodies against rabies equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml.
Step 4: 180-day Waiting Period – This is where you must PLAN! There’s a nearly 6-month waiting period from the titer test date to ensure that your dog didn’t contract rabies before developing immunity. Do NOT skip this step. Otherwise, your dog will be subject to quarantine to make up for the shortage of time! And, you are responsible for all the quarantine costs.
Step 5: Advance Notification – You must submit the notification form to Animal Quarantine Service at the expected port of entry no less than 40 days of arrival. Do it as soon as possible!
Step 6: Veterinarian Inspection – Take your dog for a veterinarian check-up to ensure that they are free of diseases and signs of rabies.
Step 7: Certificates Issued by the Government Agency of the Exporting Country – You must have a private veterinarian complete the rabies test and clinical inspection information on the form. Then, it must be endorsed by an official government veterinarian. Click here for more information.
Step 8: Import Inspection Application – In the final step, you must apply for import inspection of dogs. If they do not find any problems at the import inspection, then they will issue an import quarantine certificate.
Your dog should only be held for less than 12 hours at the Animal Quarantine Service if you have all your paperwork in line AND meet the following requirements:
- Your dog is microchipped
- Your dog has been in a designated region for the past 180 days
- There have been no outbreaks of rabies in the designated region for the last 2 years
- Your dog is free of clinical signs of rabies at the inspection carried out before the departure
Visit the official website for more info!
As you can see, the process is very lengthy; it requires complicated paperwork, waiting time, AND most importantly, three needles poking into your dog’s body (2 rabies vaccination + 1 titer test). 🙁 If you skip a step, your dog may be subject to a longer quarantine period, in which you are financially responsible. Of course, Japan is an awesome country to explore with your dog, but you must plan out the trip carefully and consider your dog’s health and safety first and foremost. Please always consult a veterinarian before planning. Again, unless you plan to stay long-term, your dog is better off with someone you trust.
Whether you’re just fascinated by the Japanese dog culture or want to travel to Japan with your dog, I hope you enjoy this special post on dog-friendly Japan!
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob
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