A reasonably new, but increasingly popular phenomenon in Japan is animal cafes. Initially it was cat cafes (neko-kissa). The kids and I visited a cat cafe in Asakusa in Tokyo. Monta Cat Cafe is situated in the Satellite Fuji Building, on the 8th floor, not far from Asakusa station. (Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Hanakawado 1-5-2) The experience was quite charming. We had been at Senso-Ji, not to far away, it was very cold and raining and we were very tired. My son (14 years, at the time) was having a bit of culture shock meltdown. We needed a rest.
The building is very narrow (most buildings in Tokyo are) and the cafe is on the top floor. We took the elevator up, and found ourselves in a tiny vestibule, not big enough to swing a cat, pardon the pun. Following etiquette, we took our shoes off, mandatory almost everywhere in Japan, and the host came out and greeted us. We had to wash our hands and use antibacterial gel, and read a fairly extensive list of rules.
The cafe itself is lovely and you can get food and drinks, hot and cold, served to you. Or…. you can just sit in the beautifully peaceful environment and enjoy patting and playing with the residents, all pedigree, all beautiful and all extremely well cared for. The cats are able to come and go from the space as they wish. There is a lot of climbing furniture and scratching posts and platforms for them to enjoy, as well as lots of bells, balls, feathers and other toys to entice them to play with you.
We also saw, in our travels, a bird cafe, with the birds in the front window, but seemingly (hopefully) not accessible to the general public. A puppy and dog cafe, where all the little residents were super cute, fluffy and for sale. Try as we might, the usagi (bunny) cafe eluded us. But, they do exist. Other cafes include owl cafes, snake cafes, goat cafes, deer cafes and goldfish cafes. I am guessing the experience at the goldfish cafe is a little less hands on than at the other cafes.
In a place where space is at an absolute premium and pets are often a luxury unafforded by tiny apartment living, being able to sit and chill out while patting a furry friend can be a great stress release. If you are traveling to Japan, I highly recommend you experience an animal cafe, at least once. There is something so quintessentially Japanese about them, and they are great fun.
Here is a link to Monta Cat Cafe.