Visiting a cat cafe was one of the things on my Japan to-do list. While I was a cat hater for most of my life (with a few positive cat experiences along the way), about 6 months before the Japan trip I suddenly found myself with three cats in my life. Once my allergies had subsided, acceptance gave way to mild interest, which eventually gave way to a small measure of cat love. I now fully understood what cats were about (even if they are still obnoxious little creatures a good chunk of the time).
My cat cafe goal in mind, one morning I hopped on the Marunouchi Line and headed to Shinjuku to visit the Calico Cat Cafe. Emerging from the Shinjuku station, I was greeted by a less toy/game/electronics oriented version of Akihabara. Shinjuku is a very busy town, with a “Times Square” feel that seemed to go on for blocks and blocks. There was an intense feeling of visual overload as I whipped my head around, trying to take everything in.
I found the building the cafe was in, and climbed the steps up to the 6th story. There was a small reception area where a worker handed me a laminated sheet describing the amenities, rules, and prices in English. $10 per hour was a pretty decent deal, with some package offerings for multiple hours. I left my information, and then stuffed my bag into a free locker. I put on my cat cafe slippers (shoes are not allowed inside), and I stepped into cat lover’s mecca…
There are cats galore…tons of breeds I am not familiar with (so feel free to comment if you know what they are). They have shy cats, friendly cats, and even ambitious cats…there was one in particular that, once he saw I had food, would not stop following me around. He pounced on me when I sat, and even started pawing at the food, trying to bring the little food container I had down to his level. He had the whole “food acquiring” thing down, it was pretty damn cute.
Calico Cat Cafe itself takes up two stories. You enter through the top story, which has a few tall cat trees and cat beds. The upper level play space is small, as the reception area takes up about half of the floor. There is a staircase in the corner that takes you to the lower level. It has a much more open feel to it due to the larger amount of space and windows. There is a variety of seats lining the walls, and even a library full of manga and other books. Empty shelves line the wall above the seating area, which the cats make use of nicely as temporary homes.
The hour I spent at Calico was pretty great, I got to play with cute kitties, feed them, and relax. As you can see from the photo above, there are a few people sleeping. I saw more than one person come into the cafe and go right to sleep, so it seems the allure of a place like this is not just for cat lovers. There were some people working on laptops here as well! The people aren’t the only ones relaxing though:
There are drinks (coffee, tea, soft drinks) and snacks available for the humans, as well as fresh cat food you can purchase to feed the kitties. Some of the cats won’t give you the time of day without a food offering, so it is highly suggested you get some. There is a binder available for perusal that catalogs the cafe’s cat family and chronicles their individual history and life stories. It’s a nice extra way to connect with the cats you are surrounded by. (I suggested to them that they should make trading cards for the cats with their story, people would love those)
After my hour was up, it was time to depart. My Calico Cat Cafe adventure was a success. It was very highly rated by many people, and lived up to the hype. It was so awesome, that even my friend who is not fond of cats ended up bonding with one. It’s a great experience, and one I look forward to repeating next time I’m in Japan. That, and an Owl cafe!
Calico Cat Cafe website (be warned, it’s in Japanese): http://www.catcafe.jp/
All photos shot on a Canon 5D MKII, with the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L lens.