Cats and depictions of cat are everywhere in Tokyo. After all, this is a place where every konbini has something Hello, Kitty themed, from ice packs, to food, to trinkets, to books, to LITERALLY EVERYTHING.
Unfortunately, most apartments in Japan do not allow you to have a live kitty friend of your own. For that reason, it’s become a popular activity to stroll on down to your local cat cafe and cuddle up with a cup of coffee and your favorite little neko.
We visited the Calico Cat Cafe in Shinjuku, which had limited instructions in English. First, you must take off your shoes and store them in a shoe locker. They have slippers available for you to don while enjoying the establishment. Next, you must wash your hands with soap and finish up with an antibacterial gel.
They will issue you a lanyard which you must wear that monitors how long you’ve spent in the cafe. The cafes charge by the hour ($10 for one hour, with rates adjusted to be a better deal the longer you stay), which does not include drinks or cat treats.
The cats stroll around freely and seem most attracted to customers who have purchased treats, which come in the form of small plastic containers full of shreds of chicken. There are numerous cat trees and toys, as well as traditional human seating. You can read a book while a cat sits in your lap, or entice one of the more playful felines with a toy on a string. You are not allowed to hold the cats in your arms or bother sleeping kitties.
This particular cafe had two floors, one of which offered a Wii.
The cats largely ignored us for the most part because we had no chicken. It wasn’t until we were leaving that we found an English menu where you could purchase the treats for the equivalent of $3. One girl did give us a piece of her chicken and immediately, a cat came over to repeatedly bat my arm with his paw until I gave it up.
In addition to cat cafes, there are purportedly an abundance of rabbit cafes in Akihabara, some of them also doubling as maid cafes. I thought I had found one entitled “Rabbit Lovers,” but it turned out to be an establishment where you could rest your head on a girl’s ass for $10/minute. It also contained new and used socks/outfits for sale as well as a room where a cracked door revealed a woman in a schoolgirl uniform kneeling in front of a man behind a curtain in a booth. Only the man’s feet and the lower half of her body was visible. Your obvious connotations are WRONG as there was a big sign that said: “This is not a sex establishment.” Whatever was going on, there were no actual bunnies to be cuddled.
^ This little guy was my favorite!