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Forget cat cafes, Japan now has coffee shops where you can cuddle a pig

“It was wonderful. Very relaxing and enjoyable,” said Brad Loomis, a software engineer from Pullman, Washington, after visiting Tokyo’s Mipig Café with his 21-year-old daughter, Paige.

They were among dozens of customers on a recent morning, taking selfies and breaking into huge smiles. The pigs, a miniature breed, trotted about the room, looking for a cozy lap to cuddle up.

The pigs are surprisingly quiet, although they do snort now and then. They don’t like to be alone, making for great companionship. Unlike the stereotype, they’re very clean and don’t smell.

Customers pay 2,200 yen (US$15) for the first 30 minutes in the company of the pigs. A reservation is required.

“Each pig is unique. Each one has his or her own personality. You may notice one may be strong-headed, and another may be gentle,” said Shiho Kitagawa, an executive at Mipig who refers to the pigs as “buta-san”, using an honorific.

The Mipig Café in fashionable Harajuku is among 10 such pig cafes the operator has opened around Japan. The first one opened in Tokyo in 2019. Two more are in the works for later this year.

The animals, known as “micro pigs”, don’t get bigger than a corgi dog, even as adults. The cafes also feature adorable baby pigs the size of toy poodles.

Pig-lovers say they make great pets. They can be bought for about 200,000 yen (US$1,350) from Mipig, have already been toilet-trained and are used to being with people. Micro pig food is also for sale. Mipig says it has sold 1,300 pigs as pets.

A drink dispensing machine is in the corner of the cafe, but hardly anyone was bothering to get a drink, being too occupied with the pigs.

Foreign tourists visiting the cafe said they found out about it on Instagram and other social media. The cafe does not