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Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011

Sculptures of dead pets console owners

NAGOYA (Kyodo) In a country where there is a sizable market for collectible figures ranging from Hello Kitty to Gundam, an increasing number of pet owners are commissioning stone sculptures of their deceased pets.

News photo
Taxidermy alternative: Craftswoman Azusa Ueno shows off stone sculptures of deceased pets at the Ueshin stonemasonry in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, last month. KYODO PHOTO

Images of animals fashioned from stone are attracting the attention of animal lovers as a way to console themselves after their pets have died.

Azusa Ueno, a 29-year-old craftswoman at Ueshin, a stonemasonry in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, chisels granite, usually used for tombstones and stone lanterns, into likenesses of pets based on photos.

"When making the figures, I try my best to re-create how they looked in their prime," said Ueno, whose designs are also influenced by what she learns about the pets' habits, such as their posture.

About 70 percent of the orders she receives are placed by people mourning the loss of a pet, she said, adding they are sometimes overcome with emotion when they see her reproduction.

It takes about three days to produce a sculpture, but anyone placing an order will have to wait several months due to the backlog created by the popularity of Ueno's work.

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