Animal Cafés Japan- Coffee with a Side of Love!
Most homes in Japan are tiny and either not suited for pets or pets just aren’t allowed. People love animals though, and not getting some kitty cuddles on occasion is hard. Japan has an answer for everything, however, so the Cat Café was born. Because of their dedication and love for animals, the Japanese believe in taking good car of them and have strict animal laws. For example, most animal cafés will close by 8 PM since animals (even owls) aren’t allowed to work after that. There are plenty of Tokyo animal cafes, cats, owls, capybaras, pigs, so no matter where you go in Japan you won’t be far from one.
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Cat cafés were only the beginning, and things have gotten furry! Now Japan boasts dog cafés, rabbit cafés, lizard cafés, owl cafés, a goat café, and squirrel and fox parks! I’m still working through the list but I wanted to share some of my experiences so far.
Calico Cat Café – Shinjuku, Tokyo
Calico is a pretty famous cat cafe, and is home to lots of cats. I was most excited to see and touch a munchkin in real life! Calico costs 1000 Yen per hour on weekdays and 1200 Yen on weekends, plus 150 Yen for every additional 10 minutes though they have “set” menus for 90 minutes, 2 hours, 3 hours, and unlimited time. Since they charge you on the way out, they will make sure you pay the cheapest rate! The menu (for human food) starts at 200 Yen for drinks. And you can buy chicken for the cats for 300 Yen.
I have cats and live in Japan, so we were only there for an hour. But it was an adventure. There were obvious tourists and obvious regulars mingled in the crowd, and cats were everywhere!! On the floor, on the walls, waiting to trip people on the stairs, and pointedly ignoring the humans from their perches.
It’s true, the cats couldn’t care less about the humans, unless they had chicken. And they knew when chicken was in play, they would mob you, then as soon as you were out – so were they. I will say that they were well taken care of, they were all healthy and so soft!
Ra.A.G.F (Rabbits And Grow Fat) Rabbit Café – Harajuku, Tokyo
The Ra.A.G.F. was a strange place; it was tiny, maybe 300 square feet and half of it was sectioned off by stacks of rabbit cages. Each rabbit had it’s own cage. Behind the cages were the “kitchen” and cashier. Visitors were not allowed back there, but I assume it was a single-serve coffee/tea machine and a mini-fridge for juice and veggies. The other half was the open seating area for visiting with the rabbits. The place is tiny, and they will only let up to two rabbits out at a time. So if there are other people there it may be better to come back later. You can make a “reservation” by talking to the ladies, they will give you a ticket with your name on it and a time. Easy-peasy!
We got there right as another couple was leaving and we had the place to ourselves. They did not let us get more than one rabbit out at a time however – apparently we have a knack for picking the fighters. But we did get two different rabbits out in our time.
The first 30 minutes are Y700 (or one hour for Y1100) and each additional half hour is another Y550. These prices include drinks for the humans. The apple juice was delicious! For Y150 you can get a cup of vegetables for the rabbits — carrot shavings and lettuce leaves, etc.
The rabbits were even more aloof than the cats. Super adorable and super soft, but they really didn’t want anything to do with us. Even when we tempted them with treats, they didn’t even seem to see the treats. We still had a fun time attempting to get their attention.
The ladies will let you open the cages and pet the other rabbits as well, even if you have a rabbit on the floor already. Since they didn’t have an escape, they were much more likely to sit still and let us pet them.
Final thought about rabbit cafés– if you are disturbed by a consistent and constant supply of poop, avoid them. I knew rabbits pooped a lot, but I had no idea it was never-ending! I mean, they are like poop pez-dispensers. Everywhere, all the time. Even the rabbit on the sign is pooping… they drew it that way. It was fun and cute, and I only got peed on a little; but we only stayed for 30 minutes and that was enough.
Fukuro Sabo-Owl Café – Kokubunji, Tokyo
Hands down, this is one of my favorite animal cafés in Tokyo! It is a bit of a jaunt out, and then a walk from the station, but it’s well worth it. Fukuro Sabo is also small, just a few tables and some inside owls and some larger owls who remain outside all day. The owls are amazing and really interact with people. They are interested in you and when you hold them they love to be petted and they give owl hugs and kisses! There just is nothing better than owl kisses!
When you get to the café , you will be asked to sit and order from the menu. They will also give you the directions about “skinshipping” with the owls. I’m pretty sure they used Google Translate to make their English menu, and it translated whatever the Japanese was to “skinship” I think it’s a great word.
We spent some time taking pics of the owls and looking at the items they have for sale. Each visitor has to order something off the menu, we each ordered a drink and we shared a “snack” which was not told to us what the snack would be. It turned out to be delicious fried octopus. Drinks start at Y500.
Then one at a time we each skinshipped with an owl. Each owl has it’s own price for holding them, and you only get to hold them for about three-minutes. It was long enough, but still so cool that we will be returning to skinship once again. Price ranges from Y300-1000, we think depending on size, but it may have something to do with whether the owl is owned or not. You see, the “café” also sells the owls and apparently boards them for some owners. And the owls you hold may in fact belong to someone not really associated with the café. This also means that some owls have names and others don’t, which we also found very interesting.
If you choose a smaller, inside owl, they will sit you on the wall side of the table and give you a towel (in case the owl has an accident) and a leather glove for the owl to perch on. You will get some time holding them on your arm and then the workers will move the owl to your shoulder for a few minutes. If you choose a bigger owl, you will have to go last of your group, and the group will pay before heading out to spend time with the big ones. The big ones are awesome, but they are too big to sit on your shoulder so you keep them on your arm the whole time.
We had a group of four and each picked a different owl, mine was the smallest. My owl was unowned and unnamed but the cutest none-the-less. She really got into the petting, and when she was on my shoulder she would lean in to hug my face and give “kisses.” Best three-minutes of my life. Dave got the biggest owl, and she was beautiful! Her eyes were very interesting, they made her look like a muppet. She liked to nibble on fingers. Not hurt anyone – just love bites.
We were sad to leave, but next time I think we will go for lunch and spend a bit longer there.
All-in-One Animal Cafés – Japan!
Tenpozan Market Animal Café – Osaka
This place is not a traditional café, they may have had drinks for sale but we were far too distracted by all the animals to notice. This place is in the Tenpozan Market place mall in between the Osaka Aquarium and the big ferris wheel. It is Y600, for what we think is unlimited time; no one told us differently anyway. You can get a 10% discount if you have tickets from the Aquarium or Ferris Wheel, too.
For other things to do, check out Day Trip to Himeji Castle from Osaka.
The “café” is split into three rooms. The first houses guinea pigs, rabbits, a few turtles. Cute, but normal, right? The second room held tons of different sized dogs, a handful of cats, and two large pigs. Yup, pigs! The pigs didn’t do much other than sleep and snore, but they were super adorable. Even though they didn’t have treats for the dogs and cats, they were all very loving and wanted to play. We spent a good amount of time in this room, but we were too excited about the last room to stay very long.
The third room was fantastic. It had llamas (a mama and a baby), a giant tortoise, an iguana, kangaroos, Patagonian Maras (which are like tiny deer), and, my favorite, Capybaras. The llamas couldn’t care less about humans, and the Patagonian maras were a little skittish. You had to move sneakily to pet them. But the kangaroos and capybaras were all about the attention. The capybaras followed us around and talked a lot. They were adorable, and are definitely fighting for my favorite animal now. There were also a few birds around the café, but you couldn’t touch them.
Best 540 Yen I’ve ever spent (we got the discount since we had done both the Aquarium and the Ferris Wheel). You should definitely visit if you go to the Aquarium in Osaka.
You know we love Japan, and we keep going back again and again. We’ve done so much there like finding the snow monkeys, eating some fantastic food, going to the Bunruku theater, watching the Sumo wrestling championships, enjoying the cherry blossom festivals and then experiencing the themed restaurants, love hotels, and so much more but I have to say there is something about the animal cafés that really get you loving the country!
More Reading: If visiting all these Animal Cafes makes you hungry, why not stop for some sushi at the World Famous Tsukiji Fush market?
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.
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