[From September Issue 2014]
People like videos and photos of cute animals. Recently many of them have been drawing attention to animals’ behinds. It seems that animal bottoms exposed to the elements are so adorable that they lighten people’s hearts and for this reason looking at them has become a trend. The boom began in Japan and is spreading around the world.
At Kobe Oji Zoo, Hyogo Prefecture, the special exhibition “Animals Seen From Behind” is being held until October 31. To let visitors learn through experience, the zoo has had plushy versions of animal behinds made. The shape of the buttocks and tail of an animal is closely related to the creature’s way of life. The appeal is that you can acquire knowledge through entertainment. “Since many children like bottoms, we thought we could get them interested in animals by starting with their behinds,” says head of public relations MANABE Daiki.
Although it started out as a project aimed at children, it’s been popular with adults, too. “On entering the exhibition, the bottoms of zebras, bears, snow leopards and more are displayed side by side. Children are delighted and cry out, ‘Wow, bottoms!’ Many families chat with each other while looking at the exhibition,” says Manabe. Having a photo taken of yourself while wearing a bottom costume is also popular.
Sekai Bunka Publishing, Inc., released a collection of photos of hamsters’ bottoms titled “Hamuketsu (hamster’s butts) – Cute Enough to Make You Pass Out.” The collection gained popularity through the Internet and sold out soon after it was released. As an unusual Japanese phenomenon, the foreign media, including the Wall Street Journal and CNN, picked up the story.
Afterwards at the suggestion of a member of staff, Sekai Bunka Publishing, Inc. adopted a hamster named “Sebun-chan” as a pet. “He’s the star of the office and is now popular among the followers, too, because we introduced him on Twitter. There are also many fans of Sebun-chan’s bottom pictures,” says MINAMI Yukako, of the media-marketing department. Responding to calls from readers, such as “I want to see more hamuketsu” and “Aren’t you going to make a sequel?” they are going to release a desktop calendar in late September.
KAMIYA Hiroko, a housewife who likes reading blogs written by hamster owners, says: “I would like to have a hamster at home, too, but since my child is still small, I cannot do that for fear my child would hit the animal. So I enjoy looking the pictures on these blogs. I think pictures of bottoms are especially cute.”
As a result of the boom, a site specializing in animals’ bottoms has been created and merchandise is being sold. It’s not only small animals that are popular. Photo collections of the rear ends of birds and large animals are also being published. Creative types are also making bottom mascots out of woolen felt. Variety goods stores are putting on exhibitions of merchandise related to animal behinds. It could be that animal bottoms provide comic relief for tired people. The end of the bottom boom is not yet in sight.
Text: TSUCHIYA Emi