7 Best Cat Cafes in Shinjuku
Now the third of a series on animal cafes in the Tokyo area, this one about Cat Cafes may have American readers scratching their heads even more than the previous articles. As a country of pet owners who have enjoyed animals as family members for decades, going to a place called a cafe that doesn’t serve food but charges about $12 an hour for a simple drink and the opportunity to pet animals can seem unusual at best. Before taking a look at the best cat cafes in Shinjuku, it might be good to take a look at the reason this type of establishment is so popular and why these ‘cafes’ are becoming more common in US cities.
As a relatively young country, Americans have enjoyed a life that includes an overabundance of space. In terms of numbers, Japan has about 3.5 people in the same amount of space for every individual in the United States. Until recently, pet ownership was not considered an option for those in these more crowded living arrangements. Animal cafes filled a void and offered a place to enjoy the companionship of animals when pet ownership was not an option. While they have become a tourist attraction, these places of business see themselves as providing a mental health service more than an attraction for visitors. To confuse this service with petting zoos or pet stores is to do them a disservice. As these businesses become more popular in other parts of the world, the value of down time with animals without the responsibility for their care may become a more popular option.
For now, investigate what it means to visit a Cat Cafe by learning more about the best rated options in the Tokyo area. A translating web browser will be helpful for viewing the links provided.
Promoted as the largest cat cafe in the area, this location offers seating for approximately 50 people and more than enough cats to go around. Reservations are only accepted by phone and are limited to allow walk-in customers. Located in the primary business district of Shinjuku, the business focuses on people who see their location as a place to rest as part of a shopping or dining experience. The basic entrance fee is Y1000 weekdays and Y1200 for weekends and holiday with drinks and cat snacks extra. Hours of operation are generally 10 am to 10 pm with the last person entering an hour before closing time. The fee schedule offers rates for 90 minute and 2 hour time periods but also charges a fee for each 10 minutes spent over the original rate. The operation is located on two floors. The entrance level with drinks and reading materials is a transitional environment slightly separate from the playrooms. Children under the age of 12 are not admitted but students may be admitted with proper proof of age. The website has a photo gallery, articles and bios of some of the participants. Located near the subway exit in Shinjuku, lockers and luggage space are available for travelers. A secondary location (Kyoraku Musashino) is closed for renovations and is scheduled to reopen on February 1, 2019.
Cat Cafe Calico | Address: 1-16-2 Kabukicho Shinjuku Ward, Fuji Building 5 / 6F, Tokyo, Japan | Phone: +81 03 -6457-6387 | Website: http://www.catcafe.jp/shop_shinjyuku.html
With an adorable website that defies translation by the Chrome browser, the information here is pieced together from other sources. It does appear that this may be one of a couple locations that are closed at this time of year (New Years) and websites are due to be updated in February. According to AnimalCafes.com, this location is known for its collection (referred to as ‘staff’) of exotic breeds with about 20 cats on staff at any given time. Hours of operation are between 11am and 8pm on weekdays and 11am to 7pm on weekends and holidays. The last entrance for the day at 30 minutes before closing. Thirty to sixty minute time blocks are available with entrance fees between Y530 and Y1060. Drinks and cat snacks are extra. The staff is helpful and there are some perks such as written materials for English speaking patrons. Besides feeding the cats, some like a game of floor ping-pong which keeps the younger felines entertained. They also are reported to have a number of larger house cats on staff. No diets here. The space is reported to be smaller than other locations which can offer a more intimate experience. This business is easily accessible from the Suehirocho Akihabara Stations.
Neko JaLaLa Akihabara | Address: 3 Chome 5−5, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo | Phone: +81 03-3258-2525 | Website: http://www.nekojalala.com/
This location is open year round from 11am to 10pm. In addition to the general antics of the felines during the day, this business holds regular evening events (starting at 7 pm) with small celebrations (birth of the creme puff - Yum). It is a timed location with reasonable base rates (Y800 per hour) but guests are charged Y200 for each 15 minute over. There are special rates for longer blocks of time and this location service drinks as part of the package. Small children are welcome with adult supervision. Cat snacks can be purchased at an extra charge. The location is accessible from the local subway line and the website does give some excellent information. Reservations are accepted by phone but it seems that most of this locations business may be walk-in customers.
Cat Cafe Nyankoto | Address: Swan Building 201 2-14-6 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku , Tokyo 169-0075 Tokyo | Phone: +81 3-6233-9662 |Website: http://www.nyankoto.com/
A newer and very popular type of cat cafe, this location seeks to provide more than just a playroom with cats. Intended to be as much ‘relaxation space’ as entertainment the drink selection is a bit more upscale and includes a variety of teas, coffees, and alcoholic beverages. Interestingly, the name translates to something like ‘Temple of the Mysterious Cat’. The decor is intended to be more fantasy than practical with a forest like theme in most areas. The menu is more extensive and has several desserts and finger foods entrees. Seating in the playroom is ample and comfortable. Hours are 10 am to 9 pm but evening dinner time is one of the best times to come. The entrance fees for an hour are Y1500 for weekdays and Y1600 for weekends. Special rates of Y700 are available in the evening when cats are the most playful and active. More information about the staff, menu and operation is available on facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Cat Cafe Temari no Ouchi | Address: Japan, 〒180-0004 Tokyo, Musashino, 2 Chome−13−14 | Phone: +81 422-23-5503 | Website: http://www.temarinoouchi.com/
With a website that offers pages in English, French Italian, German and several other languages, it would appear that this cat cafe location is going after the tourist trade more than local residents. Access by subway is just a 3 minute walk from the closest station. Rules are clearly posted and available online. The menu includes alcoholic beverages along with coffees, teas, juice and sodas. Snack food and desserts are available for the humans and Cat Rice is available in limited quantities if you would like to share a meal with your cat companion. Outside food in not permitted. The cafe typically opens at 11 am and closes at 9 pm and is open year round including holidays. Some information mentions that the cafe is closed on Tuesdays but reservations and information about actual hours of operation can be made by phone. While this location seems to have a tighter operational stye than some, it may actually be preferable to visitors who come from more regulated countries. Base entrance fee is Y800 for a one hour block of time.
Cat Cafe Asakusa Nekoen - Asakusa Cat Park | Address: 6th floor of Mt.Momotaya building 3-1-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032 | Phone: +81 03-3876-3813 | Email: email@example.com | Website: www.asakusanekoen.com
Just one location of this franchise that operates throughout Tokyo, the Shibuya location is well rated and easily accessible. Opening at 10 am, this store operations on a flexible fee of Y200 for every ten minutes. Drink service is extra (Y350) but there is a maximum charge of Y2400 for those who find themselves captivated by the cat staff. The staff includes some exotic breeds and many of them are profiled on the company’s website. Young children are not generally admitted but older children and teens may be admitted without a parent with student ID. The location closes at 10pm with the last person being admitted at 9 pm. A recommended time to attend is feeding time which happens at 10:30 am and 7:30 pm each day. Patons are permitted to feed cats. This website is one of the easiest to navigation and does have a Q&A section. There is no mention of reservations, probably because the flexible schedule makes over crowding less of a problem.
Cat Cafe MoCHA - Shibuya | Address: Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya, Udagawacho, 32−12| Phone: +81 3-6455-3503 | Website: http://catmocha.jp/shibuya/
Located in the Shibuya-ku district, this location opens at 12 noon each day and closes at 8 pm except on Friday and Saturday when it stays open until 9pm. Just a three minute walk from Ebisu Station, this business is open year round. In addition to the animal handling portion of this operation, there are exhibits and special events to add to the experience. Uniquely decorated to maximize space for cat interactions, there are dozens of semi-private areas where you and your cat companion can enjoy time together. Reasonably priced at Y600 for 30 minutes, this establishment forgoes the drink menu and serves primarily coffee or tea. It does have free WiFi which can make uploading new pics easier but no flash photography is requested. The website takes on a personal blog tone with stories of the daily activities of some of the more popular staff members.
Cat Cafe Nyafe Melange | Address: Japan, Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0013, 1−7-13 Men Asahi Building Ebisu 3F | Phone: +81 3-5449-4024 | Fax: +81 03-5449-4023 | Website: http://www.nyafe-melange.com/
The A-B-Cs of Cat Cafe Visitation
If you have not spent much time around cats or any other kind of furry four-legged creature, be prepared for the possibility of an allergic reaction. In most cases, this will just be watery eyes and a tickling nose but it can be severe. Keep in mind that medical treatment is not considered a responsibility of the establishment
As anyone with a feline pet will tell you, cats can be a self-centered group. With an attitude of “What’s in it for me” rather than “Can I help you?”, be prepared to be ignored unless there is food or a warm lap involved. Cat snacks are usually offered at an extra cost but will be readily accepted in most cases.
Not all establishments allow small children in these ‘relaxation zones’. Cats are not always the most patient of animals and may hurt.
Claws and Teeth
No matter how tame, the natural reaction when feeling threatened is for any cat to bite or scratch. Even when claws are trimmed, scratches can be painful. A cat’s teeth are very thin and sharp so antagonizing any feline is recommended. Kittens will bite more quickly than older cats but either way, it is best to stay on the good side of your companion.
To some degree, cats either eat or they don’t. That might be hard to understand but often they are picky about the foods they will eat and how it is presented. Use the foods provided by the business as generally their favorites.
Often an Animal Handling agreement is explain and signed to fully explain the risks and expectations to human patrons. Normal expectation are respectful attitude toward the animals (no waking a sleeping cat), avoiding sudden movements and actions, gentle treatment, walking not running in the facility and other common rules associated with animal welfare.
Taking pictures is expected but most businesses ask that flash photography is avoided.
Expect for your to be asked to wash your hands and cover or change shoes to protect the health of the animals.
Some locations will allow you to bring or purchase a new toy for use with the cat population. These play things need to be newly purchased to protect the animals from outside bacteria.