C-Level Profiles / Executives in Japan
Established in 2003, Hinataya is a new kind of pet store offering a variety of services, including boarding, grooming and walking. With three branches in Tokyo, Hinataya has become popular among both Japanese and expat dog-owners looking for the very best care for their pets. General manager Yoshitaka Ono and his staff make sure that the dogs of Tokyo are kept happy and healthy, even in their owners’ absence.
What is your background and what do you enjoy about your current position?
I used to work at a recruitment agency, but I have always liked animals and wanted to do a job related to them. So in 2004 I started working with Hinataya, walking and feeding the dogs. I also picked up and dropped off dogs with their owners while I was driving between our branches in Setagaya and Suginami wards. This gave me a great opportunity to speak face to face with the owners. Even now that I have become general manager, I still make it a point to communicate with each and every one of our customers.
Please tell us a little about your company.
Traditionally in Japan dogs were kept outdoors as guard dogs, but recently the trend of companion dogs (those that live indoors with families) has spread across the country. Our company was set up to cater to this growing trend.
The main services we provide include a dog boarding kennel, grooming, and a pick up and drop off service for pets. We also sell and deliver supplements and products from Jugemu, a premium dog food brand. We now have ten great staff working in our three branches in Tokyo.
What are the Japan-specific challenges your business faces?
I would say that there is still a little resistance in Japan to letting dogs into the home. That, of course, is due to the tatami mat culture, in which you must remove your shoes before entering the home and dogs are kept outside to keep them from destroying the expensive mats.
What advice would you give to aspiring professionals?
I feel that people tend to think that it is possible to be an expert at something, or a business manager, with only a little study and little experience. In actual fact, it takes much more than this and there are hidden challenges around every corner. You need to be prepared for anything, and never underestimate the challenges you may face.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to go driving by the sea or in the mountains. I also enjoy visiting zoos, aquariums and theme parks, and watching movies.
Photo courtesy of Yoshitaka Ono