Tokyo is home to many landmarks and interesting tourist attractions. However, Tokyo’s animal cafes may stand out as one of the most unique experiences you can get when visiting the Japanese capital. Pet cafes stand as popular attractions for Tokyo’s residents and visitors. I wasn’t completely sure myself about what these cafes were exactly, so I did some research.
What Are Animal Cafes In Japan? Animal cafes in Tokyo are targeted at animal lovers as a place to go for a nice hot beverage, chilling out and spending time with the pets that the cafes own. The animals differ from cafe to cafe, but the most popular animal cafes include cats, dogs, owls, hedgehogs and rabbits.
Animal cafes are popular across the globe nowadays, but the most popular pet cafes are definitely right in the heart of Tokyo. They originally started out mainly as cat and dog cafes, but today there are many different animal cafes available in Japan. But, what is the point of these cafes and why do they exist? Read on to find out about the different kinds of animal cafes available, and whether they are worth your time to visit.
Why Do Pet Cafes Exist In Japan?
As mentioned before, pet cafes are now no longer only found in Japan, but all around the world. The amazing yet equally crazy idea, had business owners around the world inspired; and now you can even find them in the United Kingdom.
But, why were these animal cafes created, and what was the thinking behind them? The first-ever animal cafe was a cat cafe which was located in Taiwan. It was opened back in 1998 and became extremely popular with Japanese tourists. The tourists then went back home with all of their inspiration and did what the Japanese do best…completely reinvent and make it 20x more creative. This is with no offence to the original animal cafe, of course. However, animal cafes have come a long way since then.
Animal Cafes were originally created in Japan so that the people who couldn’t own their own pets, could still receive the experience and benefits that having a furry friend can provide.
In a city with such a huge population as Tokyo, the majority of residents are forced to live in apartments and condos. This is because it would simply be impossible to provide every single family with their own personal house. The building space, facilities and finances would never allow this to be possible.
And, unfortunately, with the rules of certain apartment buildings, pets are not allowed. Of course, this isn’t for every single apartment building, but a lot of them do not allow owning pets.
Another problem that stops people from owning pets in Tokyo, is the busy lifestyle. From working busy long days to spending hours each week on the packed public transport, life in Tokyo is hectic, to say the least. Owning a pet would just add to the stress and struggles of life in the metropolis.
So, this is the whole reason that pet cafes made their way into Japan. However, today they also serve as popular tourist attractions, bringing in thousands of people each year from around the world.
Image Source: Karley Michelle
How Do Animal Cafes Work?
So, you’re now educated and maybe even slightly interested in animal cafes. Great! But, how exactly do they work, and what should you expect when visiting one?
For starters, before you enter almost any animal cafe in Tokyo, you can expect an entry fee. This makes it just like any other tourist attraction around the world, where you actually have to pay an initial fee to enter.
Once you are in, the experience can vary based on what cafe you visit, and what animals they have living there.
Some cafes may provide complimentary refreshments and hot beverages as included in the entry fee, while others may charge an extra cost for these. If this is a strong deciding factor of which animal cafe you visit, I strongly recommend that you research the cafe before visiting, to avoid any surprises once you’re there.
In terms of the animals, you shouldn’t be expected to pay additional costs to actually hold and cuddle the animals. This should be included in your entry fee. Of course, it is difficult to say for every single animal cafe in Tokyo, but if you stick to the most popular cafes, this won’t be an issue that you need to worry about.
However, if you wish to get that little bit closer to the animals, some of the pet cafes provide little treats that you can buy to give to your new furry friend.
Things to do in the cafes include computers for internet surfing, manga to read, anime to watch, couches to chill on and more depending on the particular cafe you choose. After all, the aim of these cafes is to simulate you being at home with your own pet, in a city where it is difficult to do so!
The animals usually have certain hours of every day in which they are all fed side by side. These are usually the prime visiting hours as many of the visitors want to witness the cuteness overload of around 30 cats sitting next to each other and eating.
These things listed are generally how all of the animal cafes in Tokyo work. However, as mentioned multiple times, it can vary depending on what cafe you visit.
What Animal Cafes Are In Tokyo?
Tokyo is the hub of the world for animal and pet cafes. The range of different cafes is simply astonishing and maybe even overwhelming if you are deciding on which one to go to.
Don’t worry, I’ve put together a little list of the most popular animal/pet cafes to give you a better idea.
Photo Source: Karley Michelle
I would like to point out that some animal cafes can be deemed as ‘cruel’. It is important that if this strongly bothers you, to avoid visiting them. Some cafes are more ethical than others, this post is not about the cruelty of the cafes. I am just providing information on the cafes, I am neither promoting nor discouraging you to visit them.
Cat Cafe MOCHA
If cats are your favourite choice of animal, then Cat Cafe MOCHA may be the one you choose to visit. This cafe is fashionable yet quirky with cat houses all over the place.
Due to the popularity of this particular cafe, the block sessions are given in 10-minute time slots. The reviews of this cafe are a mix of positive and negative. With some saying it is very expensive and not a good place for the cats, and others saying it was a great and an animal-friendly establishment.
If animal cafes and cats are of interest to you, then Cat Cafe MOCHA is probably the best option to go with.
Image Source: Candice van den Bosch
Yeah…a cafe that has actual mini pigs roaming around. How crazy is that?
At this cafe, you are welcome to cuddling, napping, reading and relaxing with the pigs at your heart’s desire. Coffee and cold beverages are available at the cafe for an additional cost.
Hedgehog Cafe HARRY
Have you ever stroked or cuddled a hedgehog? Yeah, me neither. However, the visitors of Hedgehog Cafe HARRY can say otherwise.
This unique pet cafe allows people to pick up and hold hedgehogs that apparently have all kinds of different personalities!
Not only that, if you like a certain hedgehog that much, the cafe is always open to selling them to its visitors.
It’s important to note that many people find hedgehog cafes a cruel idea, due to the natural environment of hedgehogs being dark. They are also not used to being picked up and held, they are not commonly known as pets and this is important to keep in mind.
Are Animal Cafes Cruel?
This question is hard to answer as a whole. It depends on the kind of animal and how well the cafe has done at replicating their natural environment. For example, dogs would probably find it more comfortable to live in this environment over owls, who are nocturnal and used to being in the wild.
It really comes down to who you are as a person and what you believe is right and wrong for these animals. It’s just one of those topics that have split opinions no matter what.
It is understandable how these cafes can be seen as a cash grab. But, as long as the cafes do a good job with selecting the correct animal for the environment, feeding them and giving them everything they need; I personally see no harm in the concept at all.
Image Source: Karley Michelle