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Cat Cafes in Tokyo

Note: January 2011 - Three of the cat cafes profiled here have since closed. Check our cafe page for up-to-date listings.

It all began in 2004, when the first cat cafe opened its doors in Osaka. Since then, the petting zoo/coffee house hybrids have invaded Tokyo, and business is booming. Last year alone saw a dozen new shops, each with its own unique atmosphere.

After removing your shoes and washing your hands, you can relax or play with the cats and kittens while you have your drink. Prices are reasonable, and the rules are simple: no flash photos, no grabbing tails or waking sleeping kitties.

Nekorobi (Ikebukuro)

The welcoming staff and softly lit, comfortable atmosphere make Nekorobi a popular destination. So popular, in fact, customers may encounter a wait on weekends. For Y1000, you'll get an hour with the cats, unlimited drinks from the vending machine (coffee, cocoa, royal milk tea, etc.), and complimentary cookies.

You can use the Nintendo Wii or surf the Internet, but most people opt for a long play session with one of the eleven cuddly cats, most of whom can be found lounging on the tall cat tower, nestled into a cushy beanbag, or sharpening their claws on wicker seats that look like giant sombreros.

The clientele is a mix of couples, women, and men of all ages. Although some of the cats were purchased for the cafe, several were rescued or adopted. The cats have free reign of the space, but cages are there for troublemakers. The list of rules in Japanese and English ensures that guests stay out of trouble as well. [data]


Curl Up Cafe (Meguro-ku)

When they aren't modeling for magazines or winning prizes for best in show, the twelve cats at this friendly cafe can be found stretching out on the cream-colored leather couches or curled up in cat beds. The feline staff commutes with the owner every day. The cheerful interior, with its white walls and blond wooden surfaces, is brightly illuminated and immaculate.

An array of hot and cold drinks - cappuccinos (Y600), specially blended floral-infusion teas (Y800) and fresh fruit smoothies (Y600) - are available, along with a few food items like pork fried rice (Y600) and Mexican jambalaya (Y700).

One drink is included in the entry fee - Y900 for half an hour or Y1200 for an hour. If you wish to extend your visit, it's Y500 for 30 minutes or Y800 for an hour. [data]


Jalala (Takadanobaba) (CLOSED)

Get ready for romper-room feline fun - high-speed chases, tails whipping through the air - at this lively spot in Takadanobaba. The cafe's second branch (the original Neko Jalala is in Akihabara) houses twelve friendly kitties, who are allowed to roam free at all hours: cages are nowhere in sight.

The space and the level of activity bring to mind a kindergarten classroom. Bright orange paw prints cover the walls, colorful cushions dot the floor, and tree stumps do double duty as seats for the customers and launching pads for the cats.

Y500 will get you 30 minutes of playtime; after that it's Y150 for every additional ten minutes. Drinks are available from Y300 - four kinds of coffee, six flavored teas, and four herbal teas as well as juices and soft drinks. For Y200, you can buy cat treats and a furry entourage. Reservations are recommended on weekends. [data]


Punyan (Takadanobaba) (CLOSED)

If you're in the mood to snuggle up to a sleeping kitty, this seriously chill cat lounge is the place for you. Billowy Southeast Asian fabrics hang from the ceiling, filtering the light, while soothing music plays in the background. It's Y1000 for the first hour (Y300 for another 30 minutes) plus one drink. [data]


Neko no Maho (Gotanda) (CLOSED)

If you happen to miss the last train in Gotanda, Neko no Maho can provide an alternative to the manga kissas (manga cafes): this cat cafe stays open until 5:30am. In the afternoon, it's Y250 per fifteen minutes, or Y900 per hour.

Food and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic (Y500-), are available in the dining section downstairs. [data]


by Melinda Joe
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