Para­keet craze in Ja­pan

From ice cream flavours to sta­tionery, the taste for para­keets is grow­ing in Ja­pan.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By Yukako Fukushi

Many Ja­panese had them as pets in their child­hood, and the birds may re­mind them of that time.

— AYUMI AOKI

THANKS to the pop­u­lar­ity of para­keets, known as inko in Ja­panese, para­keet­themed mer­chan­dise, such as ice cream sup­pos­edly fla­vored as dif­fer­ent kinds of para­keets, are now avail­able at a shop along with mugs and sta­tionery goods in the mo­tif of the lit­tle birds.

Var­i­ous para­keet-mo­tif goods are on dis­play at Plame Col­lome, a shop lo­cated in JR Ueno Sta­tion in Tokyo. A mug with a para­keet spoon looks like the bird as it rests on a perch. The ¥1,260 (RM41) sets sell out as soon as they hit the shelf. A coin case (¥1,155/ RM37) and a small bag shaped like a stuffed para­keet (¥1,470/ RM47) also are pop­u­lar items.

JR East Re­tail Net Co. has 14 Plame Col­lome branches in the Tokyo met­ro­pol­i­tan area.

“An­i­mal de­signs used to be pre­dom­i­nantly dogs and cats, with those of birds such as ducks and doves oc­ca­sion­ally seen. We then made para­keet goods, and saw an un­ex­pected de­mand for it. Para­keet-themed mer­chan­dise seems to be less em­bar­rass­ing for men to buy,” said To­mo­fumi Yoshigi, 38, of the JR East Re­tail Net.

Al­most half of the an­i­mal-printed goods man­u­fac­tured by Tokyo-based sta­tionery maker De­sign­phil Inc. are birds, such as para­keets and Java spar­rows. Pop­u­lar prod­ucts are seals and plan­ners.

“Chi­isana Inko-gara” (small para­keet de­sign) is a sticker sell­ing for ¥231 (RM7.40). It’s de­signed so that if you put it on a lined page, it can look like it’s sit­ting on power lines.

Inko ice cream, mean­while, is pop­u­lar be­cause it “smells” like a para­keet.

Torimi Cafe Poco no Mori, a cafe in Kobe, be­gan sell­ing them in May. It soon be­came pop­u­lar via the In­ter­net. In the Tokyo met­ro­pol­i­tan area, the ice cream is avail­able at the Seibu depart­ment store in Shibuya.

There are three fla­vors: “Seki­sei Inko Ice” (budgeri­gar fla­vor ice cream) with coarse ce­re­als and diced ap­ple, “Okame Inko Ice” (cock­atiel-fla­vored ice cream) with sun­flower seeds and “Bun­cho-ji­tate no Finchi Ice” (Finch-fla­vored ice cream tai­lored for Java spar­rows). They are ¥315 (RM10.15) each.

“It’s vanilla ice cream mixed with bird seeds and fruits. The smell of the bird feed is sim­i­lar to the smell of para­keets when you put your face close to it,” a cafe em­ployee said.

Ayumi Aoki, a con­sul­tant of an­i­mal be­hav­ior and an au­thor of many books about para­keets, said: “The plump, colourful body of the para­keet is at­trac­tive. Many Ja­panese had them as pets in their child­hood, and the birds may re­mind them of that time. That’s prob­a­bly part of the rea­son why para­keets are so pop­u­lar.” – The Yomi­uri Shim­bun/Asia News Net­work

hello, birdy: A woman holds para­keet bags on the palm of her hand at Plame Col­lome at JR Ueno Sta­tion in Tokyo.

Inko ice cream.

A mug with a para­keet spoon.

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