Hello, birdy: A woman holds parakeet bags on the palm of her hand at Plame Collome at JR Ueno Station in Tokyo.
From ice cream flavours to stationery, the taste for parakeets is growing in Japan.
THANKS to the popularity of parakeets, known as inko in Japanese, parakeet-themed 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