More and more people are sending their stuffed animals on vacation as a way to experience new destinations they can’t visit themselves. It is becoming something that gets even more popular as time goes by.
It was an idea started by the Tokyo-based company Unagi Travel. It started receiving stuffed animals to take on a trip around the city. Sometimes there are also possibilities to send stuffies to Paris and other popular cities around the world. But now more and more travel companies are receiving questions if they would accept stuffed animals for a vacation trip.
The idea for the company came after Sonoe Azuma asked an acquaintance to take her own stuffed animals on a trip, and then received a huge response when she documented the travel on her blog. Thus Unagi Travel was created in 2010. Stuffed animals are akin to family,” Azuma said to The Japan Times. “Seeing them ‘enjoying’ travel seems to motivate many to take the first step for themselves.”
It turns out that not only people who love to collect stuffed animals use the service. Often people who are sick or too busy also send their favorite stuffies on a trip. This way the people feel a little better and have something nice to look forward to. “When I’m preoccupied with work and have no time for myself, I feel comforted seeing my stuffed animal having fun,” said a 35-year-old woman from Kanagawa Prefecture.
Japan seems to be a frontrunner when it comes to creating services especially for stuffed animals. The first café for stuffies opened there last year. There are also other services for stuffed animal sleepovers, hotels and many more. There is even a Japan Teddy Bear Association which is a NPO that provides teddy bears to children in hospitals. “Stuffed animals have a connection to people and the power to comfort them,” said Kumiko Komuchi, the NPO’s chief manager. “They seem to provide encouragement and a sense of affection not only to children but adults, too.”
Here’s what a typical trip to Japan looks like for a stuffed animal:
“Most of them want to visit themselves, but can’t for some reason so they send their stuffed toy”, Azuma says to the Telegraph. “Often, once they have seen the video and learned more about Japan, they save up their money and come themselves”.