The small cat shaped toy sits on the mantle. The toy’s real life counterparts mill on the floor below, cheerfully stopping by fawning patrons. Flashbulbs go off, as the cute cats pose for photographs.
Shinjuku-ku, is a bustling ward of Tokyo. Home to the busiest railway station in the world, Shinjuku-ku boasts of many unique attractions. From a huge statue of Godzilla peering over movie theatre, to a gazillion neon lights to a view of Tokyo from the heights of the Tokyo Metropolitan Tower, Shinjuku-ku has it all. One of the unique attractions that you can find here, are the highly novel cat cafés. Yes, you heard me right, cat cafés.
A cat café is a type of quaint concept café that has exploded in popularity in Japan in the last decade or so. Patrons at these cafés usually pay a cover charge (usually by the hour) which lets them spend some time with the cats. Coffee and even treats for the feline residents of the cat café can be purchased inside the café. Within Tokyo there are about 39 cat cafés, with the first one (named Neko no Mise or Cat’s Store) opening in 20051. Since then, cat cafés have enjoyed popularity, especially since it’s apparently difficult for most people to keep pets in Tokyo. A lot of people use these cafés, to spend some quality time with their furry feline friends and unwind after a stressful day of city living.
I planned my visit to the cat café to coincide with an evening trip to Shinjuku-ku. The café I planned to visit was called Cat café Calico. I was walking down the busy side walk looking for Calico, when I suddenly saw a tiny sign that led me into a building. For a brief second, I couldn’t believe that the sign was for Calico, but it seemed that Calico was located on the 6th floor of the building, and so my cat café trip began.
I walked into the cat café reception with a slight feeling of trepidation. The lady at the counter didn’t speak a lot of English, but was able to explain to me the do’s and don’ts before I entered the café. I began with (as with all establishments in Tokyo), stowing away my shoes in a locker. Then as instructed, I washed and sanitized my hands and entered the café.
There were cats everywhere on the two floors of the café. I was instructed to not disturb any cats that were sleeping or to feed any cats that had a red coloured bandanna around their neck. Since it was evening, a lot of the cats were indeed napping. But some of the cats came by for quick rub from us, fawning humans. The cats were superbly regal, knowing that we were just visitors in their kingdom.The two floors of the cat café had a variety of clientèle, from young Tokyo hipsters to even grizzly middle-aged salary-man. Some of them even caught a quick nap at the café !!!
After my hour was up, I left Calico, definitely a lot more relaxed after playing about with cats in the café. If you visit Tokyo, and love cats, you should definitely give this a try.
Shinjuku-ku is well connected to the rest of Tokyo by train. If you are traveling by the Tokyo Metro, you can take the Shinjuku line to get there.
Cat café Calico is located on the main road, nestled in the infamous Kabukicho part of Shinjuku. Calico is prominently marked on Google Maps, so you should not have much difficulty in locating it. But do keep a lookout for the sign leading you to the building that Calico is in. The sign is a tad small and you might just miss it in the rest of the neon madness on the street.
Calico is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm everyday. The café charges about 1000 yen on most weekdays for an hour at the café. Time extensions are available at about 150 yen for an extra 10 minutes. Drinks and food cost additional and range from about 200 – 500 yen.
- Cat café. (2015, December 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia