We all know that there’s some crazy stuff that you can only find in Japan. When I made my first trip there earlier this summer, I experienced several ‘firsts’- first time getting served cocktails by a dude wearing a French maid outfit; first time eating something that was still moving around on my plate; first time in a CAT CAFE.
The Japanese seem to love everything cute and fuzzy but apparently their tiny apartments don’t usually allow pets. So they’ve adapted by opening cafes where you can sip on iced lattes and surround yourself with felines. The first-ever cat cafe was actually in Taiwan, but of course the Japanese took it to the next level; there are now almost 200 cat cafes throughout the country.
The cat cafe I went to had 52 resident exotic breed kitties. It’s called Calico Cat Cafe, and it’s located in Shinjuku (1-16-2 Kabuki-cho, 6th floor). Like many businesses in Japan it’s way up in an obscure, nondescript building; look out for a cat-themed sign on the street and take a tiny elevator up to the cafe.
At this and other Japanese cat cafes, you pay a flat rate to stay per hour, about $10 or 12, plus drinks. While I was totally confused and a little scared going up the elevator, the adorable girl at the register clearly often dealt with foreign tourists and explained everything quite clearly. Its easy; you just put on some slippers, enter the exotic-kitty-infested paradise and if you’re like me, awkwardly sit around taking photos and drinking coffee and marveling that you’re the only one there who seems to realize how weird the whole situation is.
The clientele were mostly younger women and teenage girls, but I also saw some lone businessmen and some awkward first-dates. Some people bought little boxes of cat food to distribute and thus they were completely covered in cats. Others seemed to just want to hang and relax. The atmosphere was totally quiet and tranquil. I’ve heard that many people go to cat cafes to find peace in the crazy city, and that some who are overly stressed even take time off work and sit inside the cat cafe all day long.
While I still think the idea of a cat cafe is pretty strange, it wasn’t as crazy as some of the other stuff I saw in Japan. Really, when I think about it, cats here don’t live much different lives than indoor cats elsewhere. At least they get to be social and they get some attention.
In case you’re lucky enough to be in Tokyo, here’s a map to help you find the Calico Cat Cafe!