Paro the furry seal cries softly while an elderly woman pets it. Pepper, a humanoid, waves while leading a seniors' exercise group. The upright Tree guides a disabled man taking shaky steps, saying in a gentle feminine voice, "right, left, well done!"

Robots have the run of Tokyo's Shintomi nursing home, which uses 20 different models to care for its residents.

Allowing them to help care for the elderly — a job typically seen as requiring a human touch — may be a jarring idea in the West. But many Japanese see robots positively, largely because they are depicted in popular media as friendly and helpful.