By Kelli Kosaka
During our second week in Tokyo, we were able to visit a place frequented by many past Global East Asia participants—a cat café. This particular one was located in Akihabara in a tall, plain building situated alongside a narrow alleyway.
Along the way, cute handmade signs adorned with pictures of cats pointed us in the right direction, and we could barely contain our growing excitement. After squeezing through a few unusually steep stairways, we arrived at the entrance and were greeted by the shop owner, a slight-framed woman in her thirties. We then washed our hands and were free to play with the cats in the two-story café for an hour.
What amazed me was the demeanor of the cats—nearly all of them were quite sweet, but a little fatigued. We suspected it was due to the time of our arrival; we came to the café around four o’clock and realized that many customers had probably visited the place before us and tired the cats out.
Nonetheless, we all spent the hour petting the cats, taking pictures, following them around the place, and dangling various toys in their direction. Even if some of the cats were shy, they were still adorable to look at. What surprised me was the size of the café—it had more than a few rooms with various themes, although the cats tended to spend most of their time in the main entryway and the adjacent room. The little sofas and chairs were also comfortable, affording the perfect place to relax.
These animal cafes, contrary to popular belief, seem to cater to a niche community within Japan, and while the Meiji students were familiar with such establishments, none of them were regulars. One student even told us it was his first time to go to an animal cafe.
When our hour was over, we each paid 1000 yen and were, overall, pleased with our experience.