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3 friendly mascot pigs pump up the popularity of west Japan gas station

Choco the male miniature pig walks at a gas station in Yasugi, Shimane Prefecture, on March 11, 2022. (Mainichi/Hayato Matsubara)

YASUGI, Shimane -- Three friendly mascot pigs at a gas station in this western Japan city are attracting scores of customers.

    Daisuke Unate, the 41-year-old manager at Nishinihon Usami K.K.'s gas station in the city of Yasugi's Kisa district along National Route 9, received two miniature pigs -- a pet breed -- from an acquaintance of an employee to entertain his customers in October 2019.

    Eating food such as cabbages and sweet potatoes, Choco the male pig, who has a white streak between its eyes and nose, and Mint, a female with an entirely black coat, have grown to about 1 meter in length. A female piglet was born between the two last November, but she has not been named because she is set to be adopted.

    The family of three pigs are so popular that customers at the gas station take photos with their smartphones and pet them. Unate trusts the animals as "staff members," saying with a smile, "They bring in a lot of customers."

    Kiyotaka Suyama, 79, a local resident who visited the gas station to change tires, commented: "Dogs may be common, but pigs are rare. The baby pig is adorable."

    (Japanese original by Hayato Matsubara, Matsue Bureau)

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