A Japanese man and his adorable pet tortoise have become internet sensations after photos of them strolling along the streets of Tokyo went viral. The man – funeral director Mitani Hisao – revealed that the tortoise has been his pet for the past 19 years, taking the place of the child he never had.
Hisao added that the African spurred tortoise was a tiny baby, only five cm in diameter, when he first spotted it in a pet-store window. “I never had any children, but 19 years ago my wife caught the eyes of this little tortoise and felt an instant bond with him,” he said. “I couldn’t leave the store without it.” So they adopted the little creature, named it Bon-chan, and cared for it as they would a child.
“But we had no idea he would become this big,” Hisao joked. Bon-chan is now a fully grown adult tortoise, 75 cm in diameter and weighing a whopping 70 kg!
Over the years, the bond between Hisao and Bon-chan has only strengthened. The duo go on walks together, share secrets, and even put on matching homemade outfits. “Bon-chan is the only one in the family that listens to me, so I confide in him all the time,” Hisao said. “I just say his name and he walks over to me. He knows all my dirty secrets – if he could talk, I would be in trouble.”
“I take him out for walks two to three times a week, he loves these walks, he has a set route that takes us 1.5 hours,” he added. “I’m pretty patient, but Bon-chan is actually not that slow. He knows the route by heart and is very strong-minded, so it is more me that follows him, than the other way around. We walk the neighborhood and we are pretty famous around here.”
“If there is a cute girl passing us, he will start following the girl.”
On their long walks, Hisao always carries a bag with him containing “carrots, some cabbage, plastic bags to pick up his poop and a water bottle to wash away his urine from the pavement.”
He sometimes takes Bon-chan with him to his funeral home as well. “When people come to see me, they are sad. But seeing Bon-chan brings a smile to their face,” he said. “I’m proud my son has that effect on people.”
Are they not the most adorable duo ever?