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Oddly Enough

Japanese travel agency takes stuffed toys on tours

Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 01:33

June 5 - A travel agency in Tokyo offers an unusual service, leading stuffed toys, not people, on tours. Jeanne Yurman reports.

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If you can't travel yourself, why not send a stuffed animal instead? A Japanese tour agency is letting wanna-be tourists travel…vicariously through their stuffed toys. Seem silly? Well Sonoe Azuma, founder of Unagi Travel, says she provides a unique service. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) FOUNDER OF UNAGI TRAVEL, SONOE AZUMA, SAYING: "By using stuffed toys, I'm hoping to bring a sense of adventure to people who can't normally travel. That's why I started doing this." Some of her clients have disabilities or find it physically or mentally challenging to travel. Twenty-five-year-old Ranko Endo, for instance, suffers from depression and finds it hard to leave her apartment. Her stuffed panda's adventures give her hope. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) OWNER OF STUFFED TOY PANDA NAMED "CHIBIPAN", RANKO ENDO, SAYING: "I used to be in this state where I didn't have any friends, and just going outside or seeing people was scary and really took it out of me both physically and mentally. But now that's all changed. Chibipan's made it to Shibuya, so maybe I can do it too." Details of each tour are posted online via social media, with comments and photographs, and the stuffed animals' owners also get to communicate about the tour. The tours accept inanimate travelers from Japan and overseas, running day-long excursions in the Tokyo area starting at 2,000 yen or just under $20 U.S. dollars.

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Japanese travel agency takes stuffed toys on tours

Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 01:33