Who wants to see the kawaii-est wide-eyed fuzzy meow-meows? If you said “yes,” venture quickly beyond the cut for some serious Investigative Journalism that I did for you all while I was in Japan. Yes, dear readers, I took time out of my precious vacation to conduct some intensive research into the fascinating phenomenon of Tokyo Cat Cafes. It was extremely taxing work, and I’m pleased to report the results of my findings: fat kitties, skinny kitties, airborne kitties, funnel-wearing kitties, and much, much more.
It’s known that holding or stroking a cat reduces blood pressure and improves one’s general state of mind. For Tokyo residents, the level of everyday stress faced by the average worker, coupled with the fact that most apartments forbid pets, has created a niche industry: a set of cafes where, for an hourly rate, one can bask in the blissful company of felines. Of these cafes, Calico is one of the most popular. An exclusive look, full of kitty shenanigans, after the jump!
Our journey begins at the front desk, where we’re greeted with assorted cat decor. Visitors are instructed to put their belongings into a locker, read an instructional placard (below), and wash their hands before entering the cats’ domain.
The Cat Commandments outline pricing and rules of conduct in proper Engrish (click here to see the placard at a larger size.) “At the leave the cafe, it charges automatically to the most profitable plan.” “Please do not wake up the sleeping cats, suppress them, or act that the cats dislike.” I stayed at the cafe for one hour, which cost me ¥900, or roughly $10.
Oh, the kitties you’ll meet! Placards outline the names of the feline professionals gracing you with their presence.
This gentle fellow looked like he was a regular. The cats gravitated towards him, and he looked particularly at peace.
One of the reasons why this wouldn’t work in America is that dudes would use it as a place to try to pick up girls. “You like cats? I like cats!” But in Japan’s culture of politeness, boundaries are much more defined. The most interaction I had with anyone was the guy in the background mugging for the camera.
Drunk students and cats (see the photo above this one) – isn’t that a bad combination? Not in this place! Attendants are present at all times to make sure that no molestion occurs. The girl in this picture, one of the employees, shows off her ability to keep the cats entertained.
An assortment of cat toys is available for you to choose from. Most cats preferred these gold sparkles.
A middle-aged couple enjoys the company of several cats; refreshments are served.
The cats here have a docile temperment, but they’re not afraid to climb you if given the opportunity.
Kitty jungle gyms fill the room. However, most cats use them to sleep.
This little cat loved closing himself inside the box.
When the cats don’t want to be bothered or need to use the facilities, they can retreat into a private cave.
He’s got a bit of a Kitler vibe, no?
The cats have boxes, baskets and mats for chillin’.
The cats are trained not only to play well with people, but with each other. All the Cat Drama that I observed appeared to be playful in nature. Here, a cat wearing a scratch collar makes a surprise attack while a third cat observes the action.
If you get tired of playing with cats, a library of manga and kitty lore awaits you. Included are scrapbooks and photo albums of the cats you see here as kittens.
Refreshments are served during the day, but at night this window is closed.
Sadly, none of the cats at Calico really clicked with me. Luckily, back at Tama Ryokan, I had a leg warmer/kitty/alarm clock of my very own.