Home > Focus on Japan 2007 > Dog Rental

Dog Rental

January 13th, 2007

Some time back, I remember hearing of a place (I thought it was in Odaiba, but am not certain) that rented dogs out. At the time, I thought two things: first, how silly and frivolous, and second, I’d like to rent a dog. Well, today, we did.

The place we used is called the “Wanko Rental” in Gotanda, which happened to be close-by. Upon arriving, we saw the staff giving the dogs some outside-time. (The dogs were attended to by two staff people, who moved out of the way for this shot.)


Usually I am not too crazy about pet shops; I don’t like the idea that the poor animals are cooped up in tiny cages, and I get the distinct feeling that they don’t let the poor things out too much. This rental shop does indeed let the dogs get out for exercise, and the girls inside often let the dogs run around inside the fenced areas in the shop. But their great idea is the rental service: they not only get customers to walk their dogs for them, but they get you to pay for it at the same time. Not that I’m complaining.

Sachi is very fond of Shiba Dogs, so we decided to walk one of them. The shop had tons of Dachshunds, some Cavalier Spaniels, some Retrievers, and a wide variety of other dogs. They used to have three Shibas, but there were only two when we went–more on that a little later. Of the two in the shop, the staff advised us as to personality, and though Sachi likes the brown version of Shiba, we decided on a cream-colored one (a variation not approved of by the American Kennel Club for some reason), a female named Yuriya. When Yuriya was taken out and given a leash, there was a hell of a racket, as all the other dogs knew what was going on and wanted to be walked as well. (By the way, the rates are 1000 yen/$8 an hour for walking, or 5000 yen/$42 per day for longer stints, minimum 2 days for the discount rate.)

We were given instructions and a little kit that included poop-scooping materials, a water bowl, and other stuff we might need on the walk–as well as a map to a park that we could take her to (we had already planned on it anyway), and then we were on our way.

Here is Yuriya:



On the way out, she dragged us all over the place, doing usual dog stuff…




Yuriya is an excellent dog. She was well-behaved, not too wild or excited; she never barked, heeled well on the walk, and seemed content (or at least patient) when we pet, scratched, and cuddled her. She just seemed to have a good time.

The rental thing just seems like a good idea to me. So long as you’re going to have a pet shop with mature dogs, why not get them acclimated to people, as well as have them taken out for exercise and care more often? It is also a good alternative for Japanese people who live in no-pet apartments, but love dogs.

But there is an extra point here: while mature dogs are often passed over in favor of puppies at pet shops, this shop deals only in mature dogs, or so it would seem. There were no puppies there when we visited. (Maybe these dogs are given up by pet shops after having aged without getting bought, I don’t know.) Rental customers walk the dogs and take them to the park for some sniffing about and frolicking, but all the dogs are ultimately up for sale. And what happens is that if a dog-walking customer becomes fond of a particular dog, they are more apt to buy them. The walking episodes become a kind of getting-familiar process, better than getting a dog cold and finding out your personalities don’t match. That’s what happened to Hanako, the third Shiba I mentioned before. She was purchased, apparently a short time before, by people who got to know and like her.

So maybe the idea of rental dogs isn’t as silly or frivolous as I had first thought.


Categories: Focus on Japan 2007 Tags: by
  1. ykw
    January 14th, 2007 at 04:08 | #1

    I think this is terrific. I would very much like to be able to rent a dog.

  2. January 14th, 2007 at 09:34 | #2

    awwww what a great way to spend an afternoon Luis:) If you’re ever in Missouri though, you can walk my three for free…yes, I am just THAT giving!

  3. Luis
    January 14th, 2007 at 10:09 | #3

    Sean: next time we’re in Missouri, we’ll do exactly that. Trust me, you wouldn’t even have to ask.

  4. Kathleen
    January 14th, 2007 at 14:24 | #4

    I hate to intrude on your blog without anything interesting to say, but I was wondering what camera you used in those shots. Looking at them, it’s just like being outside the Wanko Rental.

  5. Andrew
    January 15th, 2007 at 13:05 | #5

    Hey Luis, thanks for the tip. I think I’ll give that place a try.

    I think I know which park you went to. I go jogging there sometimes but it’s hard to go anywhere the place is so overrun by dogs. I think I’ll just give up on jogging and go for a stroll with Yuriya.

  6. Luis
    January 15th, 2007 at 13:23 | #6


    I use a Canon S1-IS. It’s not too unusual for a digital camera–I think a lot canb get good shots like this–but the S1 is a very nice model. It is currently on its third iteration, the S3-IS, but that model is only a modest step up from the S2-IS. If you can get the S2, it’ll be cheaper (around $250, maybe $90 cheaper than the S3) with almost as much bang for your buck. But any of the Sx-IS series will be very nice cameras–good quality, tons of features, excellent zoom, moderate price.


    The park is called–I believe–“Rinshi no Mori Kouen.” The Google Map coordinates are:


    The park is the closest to the Rental place. The Wanko Rental shop will even give you a map to the park with the best path drawn out on it. Of course, you don’t have to take Yuriya–there are dozens of dogs to choose from.

    There is a first-time registration fee of 2100 yen, and you can only rent by the hour (1050 yen per hour) the first time. After the first time, you can rent by the hour or by the day.

  7. Kathleen
    January 18th, 2007 at 22:34 | #7

    Thanks for the information on the cameras. When I head back to the States, Iíll check both models out.

Comments are closed.