The committed cosplayer, who’s known only by his canine name Toco, spent some £11,000 (2 million yen) on a hyperrealistic, custom-made costume to help him live his childhood dream of “becoming an animal”.
The Japanese native began his transformation two years ago when he tasked the company Zeppet – which normally makes costumes for films – with making the full-sized collie suit.
The process took weeks to complete and resulted in a jaw-dropping creation weighing around 4kg.
“Toco” spent a year wearing his furry disguise in private – getting used to walking around on all fours and getting to grips with his new persona.
Then, earlier this summer, he took the plunge and wore it out in public, propelling him to internet stardom.
Toco has amassed more than 50,000 subscribers on YouTube aloneEPA/FRANCK ROBICHON
His endeavour, and the expense it entailed, may seem bewildering to most of us, but the man-cum-man’s-best-friend hopes others will follow suit.
Indeed, Toco admitted in an interview with the New York Post, published on Tuesday, that he yearned to find puppy love.
Asked about the prospect of romance between two people dressed up as dogs, he told the news site: “I think it would be great if something like this existed.
“I would like to meet [a woman like this].”
One psychologist previously toldThe Post that Toco is a “therian”, meaning someone who identifies with a nonhuman species, as opposed to a “furry – referring to a subculture whose members enjoy occasional cosplay in an animal costume.
Toco interacts with an admirer on the streets of TokyoEPA/FRANCK ROBICHON
In a previous interview with Spanish news agency EFE, he admitted that he’s received a very mixed response to his unorthodox hobby, thanks to his YouTube and TikTok channels which have amassed millions of views between them.
“I receive all kinds of messages,” he said. “Alongside the positive messages, some [people] tell me they want to do the same thing, which has made me realise that there are others like me.
And whilst his family and closest friends know about his canine alter-ego, he has chosen to keep his human identity secret for fear of harassment.
Still, none of the negativity has put him off, and he hasn’t ruled out the idea of getting other dog suits made in the future.
He told EFE that although the collie is his favourite dog breed, he also loves a number of others, including the Alaskan malamute, the Siberian husky and the golden retriever – all of which, given their relatively large size, should be pretty easy for him to emulate.
He also likes cats, foxes and other animals which would present a whole new challenge.
He acknowledged that many people find his behaviour strange, but said that won't stop him from living his dream EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON
In his interview with The Post, Toco admitted that spending much of his day on all fours was often draining, but he stressed it was worth the pain for the sense of fulfilment it brings him.
“Rather than being tough or physically uncomfortable, the feelings of excitement and fun I receive from this experience are stronger,” he said.