Natsumi Clinic is not your average hospital in Japan.
While the clinic in Tokyo performs eye surgeries, hair transplants and stitches up injuries, its patients are those who hold the oldest moments and memories of any person: their stuffed animals.
Natsumi Hakozaki, a former seamstress, said she was inspired to co-found the clinic after she helped a customer at a clothing repair shop to restore a stuffed animal.
“When I repaired it and returned it to her, she was as delighted as if she was waiting for her family to come home,” she told Buzzfeed Japan. “[Customers] care for stuffed toys like family,” Hakozaki told AFP. “They see stuffed toys as family members, partners or best friends, not mere objects.”
The clinic repairs over 100 toys a month, with each customer filling in a “patient form” upon admission. This form includes fields like those in any other patient form, such as the toy’s birth date, measurements and weight. In addition, it also includes the toy’s “preferred hobbies” and includes a section where the customer can request extra stuffing in specific parts of a toy.
Natsumi Clinic’s final touch before returning each patient to their owner is a pink heart that is filled with the toy’s old stuffing, transferring the toy’s “soul” so that part of their old memory is still with them.
Many customers hug their toys and even burst into tears upon their reunion, which is usually about one month spent apart, Hakozaki said.