So you’ve finally done it. You waited for the best airline deal you could find and booked a vacation to Tokyo, Japan. After the 15+ hour flight and walking through the densely populated streets you find yourself in awe of the Buddhist temple known as Asakusa Kannon or Sensoji. Then you wander around the skyscraper district and find the hotels that were used in the movie “Lost in Translation.” And finally, you watch the residents of Tokyo squeeze themselves onto the mass transit system during rush hour. It’s exciting, amazing, and beautiful.
Then you notice something else. A café where people have removed their shoes, are sitting on couches that are ripped, and smiling as they look at the ground. Some of them are dangling strings and laughing. Others are on their hands and knees crawling after something. What is it? What are they doing?
They are petting and interacting with cats and kittens. They are hanging out in a cat café.
Tokyo apartments are often small, expensive, and many have no pet policies. Many residents of Tokyo work long hours and are not home enough to adequately care for a cat or dog. The cafes offer a channel where pet lovers can go and play with a cat, relax, and unwind after a busy day. It is estimated that there are as many as 40 cat cafes in Japan. The cafes have resident cats and for a fee you can spend an hour or more playing with and petting the cats.
The rules are simple:
- Remove your shoes.
- Wash your hands.
- Do not pull their tails.
- Do not force the cats to interact with you.
- Do not use the flash on your camera if you take pictures.
Here are a few of the cat cafes in Tokyo, Japan that you may want to visit:
Mr. Osamu Maeda owns this cat cafe. It was started as a way to help raise awareness of the stray population and hopefully get people to love cats. The cafe also serves as permanent homes for the cats he has chosen for his café. Neko Jalala cats have biographies written about them with translations into other languages. Ask for a copy of it when you visit.
- Phone: +81 (0) 3 3258 2525
Calico Cat Café
There are two branches of this popular café. They have only purebred cats and ask that you wear an ID tag that they give you. One important rule is do not pick up any kittens that are wearing ribbons. It is also recommended you call ahead and make reservations as the cafés tend to be crowded, especially on weekends.
- Phone: +81 (0) 4 2229 8353
- Website (only in Japanese)
Neko means ‘cat’ in Japanese. This café is decorated in wicker and burlap and boasts having a Nintendo Wii as well as cats. Most of the cats at this café were once strays or turned into shelters by their owners.
- Phone: +81 (0) 3 6228-0646
- Website (only in Japanese)
There are many other cat cafes in Tokyo. To find one that is in a neighborhood near where you are staying, ask the clerk at the front desk of your hotel or hostel. Cat cafes are trendy and (s)he may know where the closest one is and how to get there.