One of my favorite things about Japan is its abundance of specialty animal cafes (because cute animals + tea and coffee = pretty much the best idea ever). These fur-friendly establishments feature a particular type of animal and usually serve animal-themed snacks and drinks. The cafes are designed to be relaxing, and are a nice break from a busy day.
Animal Cafes Have More than Just Cats.
For me, Japan’s cat cafes (Yes, you read that right: Cat. Cafes.) are irresistible. Not only do they help me not miss my kitties so much while I’m traveling, they’re a nice break from busy travel days. (And in case you were wondering, Japanese kitties are just like American kitties – they only pay attention to you if they feel like it, but they’re always adorable).
But if cats aren’t your thing, or you just want to experience another type of animal, there are all kinds of animal cafes in Japan, like: Hedgehog cafes, owl cafes, exotic bird cafes, puppy cafes and even reptile cafes.
Why are Animal Cafes so Popular in Japan?
While some U.S. cities have recently opened a few locations, animal cafes outside of Japan aren’t that common yet. But luckily, you can get your fill while traveling, because specialty animal cafes are all over Japan, with cat cafes being the most popular.
Animal cafes have become popular in Japan for several reasons. First of course, is that animals are adorable and hanging out with them is relaxing. But the other reasons are unique to Japan. Because most people commute and are away from home a lot, cafes provide a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of a workday in the city. Next, landlords in Japan are notoriously strict, and many do not allow pets. So these specialty cafes are a way for many Japanese to experience the cute pets they can’t have at home.
5 Great Animal Cafes in Tokyo.
Hapineko – Essentially, it’s a cozy living room full of cats in the middle of Shibuya, Tokyo. And bonus – it’s pretty cheap (1,050 Yen), open 365 days a year, and they serve great tea and sweets with your visit. (Address: 2-28 Dogenzaka, Building 3, Shibuya, Tokyo.)
Kotori – Bird lovers will adore this fun little cafe in Omotesando, Tokyo, because you can play with cockatiels, lovebirds, parakeets, cockatoos, canaries and parrots. And while I love birds, I visit more for the novelty. Everything in the cafe is bird-themed (including the huge selection of (super yummy) sweet treats on the menu…not to mention that the cafe offers over 10 types of coffee and tea.) Drinks are 800 Yen and if you want to pet the birds in their special enclosure, add an extra 500 Yen. (Address: 6-3-7 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo.)
Temari no Ouchi – This cat cafe is pretty incredible. The interior is designed like a woodsy fairy tale world and the cafe serves coffee, cocktails and food. Entrance is 1,200 Yen on weekdays and 1,600 on weekends. (Address: 2-13-14 Kichijoji Honcho, 3F, Musashino, Tokyo.)
Tori no Iru Cafe – This fun spot is home to tame owls of all shapes and sizes. The birds are used to people, and don’t seem to mind being petted, making it a really unique experience. (Side note though: The owls are allowed to fly freely, so if this will make you have flashbacks to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Birds, this probably isn’t the place for you.) A half hour visit is 1,000 Yen, and one hour is 1,500 Yen. (Address: 1-12-8 Asakusa Taito-ku B1 F Oyama Building, Asakusa, Tokyo; Reservations recommended.)
Usagi no Ehon – Prepare for cuteness overload at this eclectic little cafe in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. Usagi no Ehon is home to dozens of fluffy bunnies, and serves bunny-themed drinks and snacks. This usagi (bunny) cafe is probably one of the best deals at 150 Yen per 30 minutes and is a favorite of local artists and musicians. (Address: Kitazawa 3-30-1, K Bldg, 2F, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.)
So if you need some time to relax during your travels, or you just miss your pets at home, why not check out an animal cafe? Each one is a unique, budget-friendly experience, and the animals are just downright adorable.