An elderly man in Japan is loved by internet users worldwide for his heartwarming hobby of taking his giant African tortoise on a walk every day.
Hisao Mitani welcomed tortoise Bon-chan into his life more than 20 years ago, after his wife ‘fell in love’ with the reptile at a pet shop.
Back then Bon-chan was small enough to fit into the palm of Mitani’s hand, but he has since grown into a huge creature who will not be missed as he saunters down the streets of Tokyo alongside his owner.
Check out footage of Bon-chan in action below:
@sugoimartim only living for the kabuto on his head tbh ##fyp ##foryoupage ##africantortoise ##japanthings ##animals ##japanlife ##tsukishima ##japan ##sugoimart♬ original sound – sugoimart
The giant African tortoise first made it into the spotlight a few years ago, when pictures of him walking around the streets with Mitani went viral online, however he gained even more fans this week after a video of him was posted to TikTok.
The clip explains that Bon-chan began to grow rapidly when he hit the age of 10, and at the grand old age of 25 he now weighs around 70kg.
Speaking to AFP about his beloved pet in 2015, Mitani admitted that he ‘did not think [Bon-chan] would be this big’ when his wife first brought him home. The owner is known to take the tortoise on ‘long walks’, though they’re really five minute walks made longer because of the tortoise’s slow pace and the attention he gains from passersby.
The video shows Bon-chan wearing accessories on both his head and his shell, but they’re not the only accessories he’s been spotted out and about in. To keep him warm in the winter months, Mitani is reportedly also known to have dressed the tortoise in a frilly coat.
As well as wandering the streets, Bon-chan has been known to hang out at a funeral home owned by Mitani, where he greets those who come inside.
The owner commented: ‘Some people may say it’s absurd to keep such a big tortoise at the entrance of a funeral service. But even in their time of sadness, people smile when they see him, so I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have him.’
Tortoises are symbols of longevity in Japan, and while Mitani has earned the nickname ‘immortal tortoise man’ due to his relationship with Bon-chan, the elderly man has admitted that he might not be here forever.
He commented: ‘I hear this kind of reptile lives for about 80 years, so it’s certain that I will go before him.’
Bon-chan and Mitani’s popularity online will no doubt ensure their story will live on for years to come, with dozens of TikTok users taking to the comments to declare their love for the tortoise.