Tokyo boasts an abundance of animal cafés that offer customers a chance to interact with creatures both cuddly and exotic. Below we look at different shops around the capital.
Meeting Pets over Coffee
Many Tokyoites long for animal companionship but are thwarted by cramped apartments or landlords who enforce strict no-pet rules. Luckily, the capital has numerous animal cafés where residents can get their fix of critter interaction.
Also known as pet cafés, these specialty shops are equally popular with foreign visitors to Japan. Cats are one of the most common animals featured, but there are also venues dedicated to other creatures like hedgehogs, owls, and snakes. In this series we tour seven different animal cafés around Tokyo.
Komugi, a red tabby American shorthair, lounges by a window at Cat Café Mocha.
Northern white-faced owl Hanno perches on a chair at the Owl Nest Café.
Four-toed hedgehogs, particularly the salt and pepper variety, are popular among customers at Hedgehog Café Harry.
Pritz, a Netherland dwarf at café Ra.A.G.F., is the spitting image of Peter Rabbit.
Jagger, a jungle carpet python at the Tokyo Snake Center, is surprisingly soft and supple to pet.
Toy poodles, such as this one at Dog Heart, are popular in Japan.
A northern goshawk stares coolly from its roost at the Falconer’s Café.
Cat Watching in Harajuku
Cat Café Mocha
- Address: Jingūmae 1-14-25 Cross Avenue Harajuku 4F, Shibuya, Tokyo
- Hours: Daily, 10:00 am–8:00 pm
- This stylish cat café is directly opposite Harajuku Station and overlooks the Meiji Shrine.
The shop’s 13 cats melt hearts as they nibble side by side during one of the café’s twice-daily feeding times.
Located across from Harajuku Station, the café is a popular draw for Japanese and foreign visitors alike.
Customers ply the feline staff with kitty snacks.
Owls on the Fly in Ueno
Owl Nest Café
- Address: Ueno 4-5-11 Yasutomi Building 3F, Taitō, Tokyo
- Hours: Weekdays, 1:00 pm–7:00 pm; Weekends and holidays, 12:00 pm–8:00 pm
- Many people have seen owls at a distance, but customers at this café are able to get up close and personal with these stunningly beautiful and graceful birds.
Shop manager Abdullah, a Saudi Arabian national and long-time resident of Japan, holds one of the café’s feathered residents. Owls are known as being nocturnal, but the birds at the shop were bred in captivity and are active during the daytime. Interested customers can inquire about purchasing their own hooter.
Customers can ask to feed an owl or have it sit on their shoulder.
The owls are able to fly freely around the café. As the birds are not housebroken, though, there are occasional messes to clean up.
A Hedgehog Heaven in Harajuku
Hedgehog Café Harry
- Address: Jingūmae 1-13-21, Shibuya, Tokyo
- Hours: Daily, 12:00 pm–8:00 pm
- The world’s first café dedicated to hedgehogs, Harry offers customers the chance to hold, cuddle, and even purchase the prickly creatures.
Of the nearly 100 varieties of hedgehog found around the world, the four-toed variety is the only breed kept as pets in Japan. Customers can ask staff for help in handling the animals or follow the shop’s printed how-to guide.
The café is a popular attraction for foreign visitors to Japan. Seats are positioned around hedgehog boxes, and even when busy, the shop guarantees customers their own harinezumi to cuddle.
Timid patrons can don gloves when touching or holding hedgehogs to avoid being pricked by an errant spine.
(Originally published in Japanese on January 23, 2018. Text by Yoshimura Shin’ichi. Photos by Nagasaka Yoshiki. Banner photo: A customer holds a hedgehog at Harry, a Harajuku café dedicated to the creatures.)