Many cats, a Bunny and a Hedgehog. Here is my experience critter cafe hopping in Tokyo.
Tokyo is like being in a blender filled with every vibrant ingredient under the sun that has a systematic flow, bringing together the perfect concoction of weird and wild yet organised and peaceful. How can this be? Im still trying to figure it out.
Critter themed cafes are certainly under the spotlight with both positive and negative views, facts and opinions being thrown around, it can be quite hard to establish what is right and wrong. This is certainly a confusing time for an animal lover who just wants to pet a bunny so I decided I would visit a few to see for myself.
I start my quest at a Cat Cafe in Harajuku located on the 4th floor where I am charged 200JPY every 10 minutes, I am also offered a “cat snack” for an extra cost. As I opened the door I am greeted with the sight of cats, cats, cats everywhere. Cute, fluffy, well groomed, cats everywhere. Some were sleepy (cats sleep 12-16 hours per day, What a life!?) some were super playful and smoochy. There are plenty of nooks and out of reach places where cats can retreat away if they’re not in the mood. The establishment is spacious, has plenty of natural light so all in all, cat cafes receive a massive tick and I felt nothing but good vibes in this establishment.
Next the Bunny cafe in Ropongi. Not really a cafe, more similar to a pet shop where you can choose a bunny you want to pet from a cage and sit with it for the amount of time you would like to pay for. They are also available to purchase. The bunnies are friendly, well groomed and the staff were quick to tell patrons if they were handling their bunny incorrectly. The overall vibe is sterile, a hard adjustment after the warm and welcoming cat cafe. The experience did not feel cruel, the bunnies appeared relaxed and placid however this was not a “hang out with bunnies” experience in comparison to the cat cafe.
Harry; the Hedgehog cafe. This establishment opened their doors the week I visited Tokyo and is owned by the same business that operates the bunny cafe. As you can imagine the excitement around the opening of this adorable themed cafe made it wildly popular. Walking into the room I notice how small and cramped this place is. High demand meant they had to squeezed as many people into the room that it could possibly occupy. Once seated you are asked to choose a hedgehog you would like to spend time with, we asked the staff to choose for us. I had a tonne of fun holding my chubby little hedgehog, he was a hungry little fella and gobbled up his entire “worm snack”, however my girlfriends hedgehog wanted to hide anywhere it could scramble to and was shaking. We were quite concerned about the little guy so we asked the staff if there is a place he could rest; the staff simply said that they shake before they sleep. We were unimpressed with this answer. We insisted that he be returned to his enclosure, they soon returned with the same hedgehog. We spent the time nursing him and letting him hide wherever he wanted to. I look over at the people next to me and they are putting the hedgehog on his back, the little guy is straining and clearly not enjoying it. The staff were not watching for bad handling and the hedgehogs seemed pretty stressed. Adorable in theory, not nice in practise. I see that this could be a good establishment if managed much much better.
I decided after this experience to call it quits on critter cafes. I had seen enough.
My experience at the hedgehog cafe was questionable and I am not sure how I feel about it.
I love and adore all animals and I just want to see them happy.
I visited another Cat Cafe during my stay in Tokyo and it left the same impression as my first experience. Great hospitality and smoochy cats.
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