Something that I’ve always admired about Japanese people is how they openly show what they like and think about. Openly. Everywhere. Growing up between Europe and South America, I learned how certain things are seen as strange and are better kept hidden like taboos. Religion, also, plays a significant role in forging mentalities. Japan, however, is different, from anywhere I know. They openly display their frustrations and desires where anywhere would seem strange and odd.
While in Shinjuku, I came across a cats café. Me, being the tourist ignorant, thought it was a place designed for cat lovers who like to surround themselves with cat-themed decorations, coffee, teas, muffins. I wasn’t so far off, really. It took me good few minutes to understand what it was really about.
The concept of a Cats Cafe
Cat cafes are a kind of coffee shop where people go to spend time and play around with cats.
This kind of establishment took off about a decade ago. Thanks to the difficulties of having pets due to small living, strict rental contracts, busy lifestyles and consuming work routine, many people can’t afford the pleasure of having a pet at home to cuddle and nurture after a long day of work.
The solution is simply this: a cat café where you can come in and join a big room filled with cat toys and scratching poles, while enjoying a nice coffee with pastries.
Where to find them and how to get in
Cat’s Cafes are found in every major city in Japan, normally located on an upper floor and not very visible to the walking eye. Reservation is not generally needed, although the time spent in there limited by the fee that you pay. You can’t bring your own cat if you have one, you just enjoy the time with the ones you find there.
The typical procedure at a cats cafe is as follows:
- Register at the entrance. Your starting time will be recorded.
- Remove footwear and change into the provided slippers.
- Sanitize hands with alcohol spray before moving to where the cats are. Patrons are free to pick any vacant spot and move around to play with the animals. Food and drinks can also be ordered once you decide on a seat. Cat toys are provided at the cafe and free to use.
- After having your fill of playing with the cats, return to the entrance to pay for the time spent there and anything else you may have ordered.