I recently posted some photos on Facebook of my visit to a cat cafe in Kobe and I received so many messages from people in the States who were curious about what a cat cafe was. Having been in Japan for a little over a year, it doesn’t seem too weird to me, but to someone who lives in the States, the idea of paying to play with cats seems strange!
My apartment in Japan is an efficiency, and when I say efficiency, think smaller than your normal efficiency. I’ve heard (horror) stories of efficiency apartments in New York City, and I’m guessing that my apartment would fit right in with some of those stories. I’ve had bathrooms the size of my apartment! (this is a totally true comment, although the bathroom was relatively large…) Anyway, from what I have seen in Japan, my apartment size is pretty common – many people live in these tiny apartments, and often more than one person lives in these closet-sized apartments. With this being said, their landlords don’t allow them to have pets – so no cats, and definitely, no dogs. When you aren’t allowed to have a pet, its appealing for some people to pay to play with pets, which is why cat cafe’s have sprung up across Japan.
Going to a cat cafe is a truly Japanese experience, so of course I wanted to check it out. It was hard to find one in Kobe, at least it was for me. Kobe is not as big a city as Tokyo or Osaka, so there aren’t as many cat cafes and the one I found had a website that was in Japanese, so I had to rely on Google Translate to be able to read the details. The cafe is called Cat Cafe Nyanny and is located in Motomachi. There were 10 of us who went, so we had to split up and go at different intervals because they only allow a certain number of people in with the cats. The cost was 1000 yen ($10) and you could pay extra for a drink, although you have to take your drink a separate room away from the cats.
cat on an overhead shelf by the door
Once you enter the main room with the cats, you are free to pet the cats just so long as you are not disturbing them. The excitement wears off after about 10 minutes. We had a full hour and I was glad there were plenty of other people with me to talk to otherwise I would have probably gotten pretty bored… I forgot how much cats like to sleep, so most of them slept. There was only one that was really active and it seemed to be younger than the other cats.
After our hour, we left. Most of us said we were glad we went, but that we wouldn’t be back. I checked this off my ‘Japan to-do list’ and I’m glad I did. How many other people can say they’ve been to a cat cafe?!
*cat in Japanese – neko 猫
*Americans say cats make the sound ‘meow – meow’ – Japanese say cats make the sound ‘ nyaa-nyaa’ (see my post on Japanese onomatopoeia)