TOKYO'S K-9 CAFE
Ensuke Hirakawa is no ordinary pet-shop proprietor.
He is a man who thinks the time has come for pets to receive some of the fastidious service for which Japan is famous, a man who guarantees that a pet purchased from him will stay alive for at least a year - or the replacement is free.
But most of all, he is a man with a concept. In Mr. Hirakawa's establishment, kennel meets kitsch and comes out fabulous: Lap dogs mince their way through "beef-and-cheese hors d'oeuvres," skitter across the pink tile floor, and yelp and yap amid classical music. Occasionally they leave a little puddle of something inevitable under the antique Italian table, but one of Hirakawa's Nehru-jacketed assistants is stooping close behind, spritzer bottle in one hand and wet rag in the other. It's just another lunchtime at Ken 21 - where Tokyo's lap dogs luxuriate.
"Pet shops have a dirty, unpleasant image," says Hirakawa, a deep-voiced man who favors the sort of aviator frames that Gloria Steinem likes. In his own way, he too is a revolutionary. "I want to clear all that away," he declares. "I want to treat pets like humans."
Hirakawa knows what he's talking about - he's an esthetician, someone who performs facials and other beauty treatments. For years his shop catered only to men and women, but the attention his dog was getting caused him to consider branching out to other species.
Gatsby, a big, slobbery, and impeccably groomed white Pyrenees, was being asked to appear in commercials and fashion shoots. People were even renting him out, for as much as $180 an hour, for special occasions like wedding receptions.