Anyone whose finger has been even intermittently on the pulse of Japanese cultural trends in the past couple of years has surely heard about cat cafes. Basically they’re just what they sound like: They’re cafes with cats in them. Since many people in Tokyo and other large Japanese cities live in apartments that don’t allow pets, these cafes have become popular as a way to get one’s animal fix without the responsibility of actually owning a pet.
But how exactly do cat cafes work? What are they like, really? A few days ago, I grabbed a friend and went on a mission to find out.
After researching several cat cafes online, we chose to visit one in Ikebukuro called Neko no Iru Kyuusokujo 299. (The website is in Japanese, but there are pretty pictures.) We liked that it seemed to have a lot of space, big comfy sofas to relax on, shelves full of manga to read, and of course lots of cute kitties! Fortunately, we weren’t disappointed and the cafe lived up to the impression it gave on its website.
The way things went down procedure-wise was quite simple: We first walked into a closed-off reception area where we were instructed to remove our shoes and change into the slippers provided. We were then given an explanation of the cafe rules. (My friend, who doesn’t know much Japanese, was handed a card with all the rules written out in English.) We were each given a card stamped with our time of entry, which we were instructed to present on our way out to calculate our payments. (We would be charged by the length of time we stayed in the cafe.) Both of us opted to purchase unlimited fountain drinks (with various coffees, teas and juices available) for 350 yen. The friendly attendant then spritzed our hands with hand sanitizer and left us to our devices.
We proceeded to have a very nice, relaxing time lazing around on the couches, petting the kitties, trying to take cute photos, and observing the people attempting (usually in vain) to engage the cats’ attention with the various toys available. At one point, we watched a whole gaggle of cats practically mob one of the attendants as she doled out snacks to them. The cats were obviously healthy and well cared for, and all the people in the room all seemed happy to be there. (Though there was one guy who seemed to be there just to sleep, and was dozing away on one of the couches the whole time!)
Besides the cats, the drinks, the shelves full of manga and the cat toys, this cafe had a few other things to keep guests entertained including computers with free Internet and even a massage chair! They also had binders laid out with photos of all the cats, their names, and explanations of their personalities, which was nice.
We ended up paying over 2,000 yen each for the couple of hours we spent at the cafe. A bit spendy perhaps, but we felt it was worth it and we would like to go again! But then again, we’ve heard there’s also such a thing as a rabbit cafe. So maybe we’ll check out one of those next time!
Have you ever been to a cat cafe? If so, how was your experience? If not, would you like to go?
The original Oppo Dog Muzzle Quack created a HUGE stir when it was released a while back.
Now our online store has got the follow-up, the Oppo Dog Muzzle Quack Closed. As the name suggests, it has a similar “duck bill” design with the mouth closed off for better protection.
Some people think this kind of thing is another case of “wacky Japan”. While there are some genuinely odd pet trends in Japan (and other places too!), we happen to think the Quack Muzzle, is seriously innovative and fun design intended as a tribute to your pet’s charms. Make your dog stand out and look vibrant with the Quack Closed muzzle.
I mean, why should protecting people from your dog’s chomping nashers be boring?
Since pooches come in all shapes and sizes, there is also a range of different muzzles for different breeds of dogs, plus three different colors. It is also easy to clean and keep clean, since hygiene for your canine friend is also important, right?
Japan and the cat. Was ever a nation more beguiled with the feline?
From Sanrio’s Hello Kitty to cat cafes and YouTube sensation Maru, the box-loving pet, the Japanese are mad about cats. It has been estimated that 65.45% of the Japanese internet is composed of blogs, photos, videos or other content about cats. Okay, we just made that up but it could well be true.
The history of Japan and the cat goes back some 1,300 years, and our furry friends feature in Edo era prints, the Genji Monogatari, the Maneki-Neko “beckoning cat” and other major examples of cultural output.
All this cat love necessitates a range of products to meet owner demand, from fake wine to drink with your cats, special fashion for your pet to wear (including cat pajamas or even protective clothes for emergencies and disasters!), and designer pet beds and cat grooming brushes. And all this before we even start on the importance of cats and cat ears in cosplay culture.
It must also be contagious. Cat cafes are now spreading to London and Paris!
Well, with such a spectrum confronting us, what’s a good way to start an exploration of Japan’s love affair with the cat? Watching some YouTube videos for one. There is also this online magazine ilove.cat, which is full of content about this topic, and some of it is bilingual.
It publishes interviews with designers and celebrities who own cats, plus introduces books about cats. It even reports from such places as a pet research center trying to find out what makes cats tick.
Now there is also going to be an exhibition at Tokyo Midtown’s branch of by Toraya, one of Japan’s oldest confectionary makers and whose motif is a tiger. Running from September 25th to December 16th inside the Toraya store in Midtown, “Amai Neko” (Sugary Cats) will feature cat-themed sweets plus folk crafts in the form of miniature regional dolls — i.e. a dozen and more variations on the Maneki-Neko from different parts of Japan!
You can bet this will be as catastic as you’d expect any feline-related event in Japan to be.
From emergency evacuation jackets and rescue carry bags, dog pedometers, and even canine communication translators (!?), the Japanese could at times be accused of taking their love of pets a bit too far.
Sure, there’s certainly a lot of strange pet accessories out there, from wigs to outlandish duck bill design dog muzzles that might have observers calling at least the fashion police, if not even the animal cruelty hotline.
But here’s one new innovation that is both a stroke of engineering genius as well as a practical tool to ease worried pet owners’ minds.
If you want to keep an eye on your pooch’s eating habits but don’t want to leave your desk, this Remoca Dog Food Bowl Camera set will be able to relay video of everything for you.
Equipped with sensors, as your dog approaches it switches on and films him or her getting their fill of nosh or water. If you are concerned about when and how much your pet is eating, you can keep an eye on the hungry pooch even from your office or when you are otherwise out of the house or busy.
The camera can be adjusted to change the angle it shows — but the movement is quiet and smooth so as not to distract your pet from their food.
You can even control it remotely to open up secret compartments with treats, record video for later viewing, or watch it on your phone on a special app. Hell, there’s even infrared in the camera so you can check up on your dog’s night time snacks!
Designer dog houses adapted to match the breed of the pooch? Well, it already no secret that the Japanese do love two things — pets and good design — so perhaps this marriage was inevitable. After all, we’ve previously seen this two come spectacularly together to create duck-bill design Oppo Quack dog muzzles.
A group of architects, led by designer maestro Kenya Hara, has proposed a series of special dog homes, each one customized for a particular kind of canine.
Participants in the Architecture for Dogs project include Atelier Bow-Wow, Kazuyo Sejima, Kengo Kuma, Shigeru Ban, Sou Fujimoto and Toyo Ito, and more.
Here’s how Hara himself puts it: “Dogs are people’s partners, living right beside them, but they are also animals that humans, through crossbreeding, have created in multitudes of breeds. Reexamining these close partners with fresh eyes may be a chance to reexamine both human beings themselves and the natural environment.”
Word got out online about the project in November but the website has only just gone live, and it also recently exhibited at the Miami Design District.
From the website dog-owners can download blueprints for the designs, plus instructions and videos for how to construct and customize them for your own pet.
There will be another exhibition, this time in Tokyo, in October 2013, along with a book.