Tokyo: Visiting a cat cafe

Hapi Neko, Cat cafe in Tokyo

Cat cafes are popular throughout Japan and in Tokyo alone there are over 30 to choose among. You pay a cover charge to spend a limited amount of time in the company of felines in a quiet environment. That may sound a little odd, but bear in mind that housing is expensive in Tokyo, and most people live in small apartments and are not allowed to keep pets.

I used to go to Hapi Neko, which was a really nice cat cafe in Shibuya, but unfortunately it’s permanently closed.

Some people may argue that this kind of showcasing cannot really be in the cats’ best interest, but the cats at Hapi Neko really seemed to enjoy the attention. There are strict rules regarding feeding (all human food is forbidden), and you are also not allowed to lift the cats, or otherwise stress them in any way. The café has designated places for the cats to hide, when they get tired, or when they need some me(eow)-time, and big signs state that waking up a sleeping cat is strictly prohibited.

The entrance fee included an hour in the company of cats, a hot drink and a biscuit. Before I was let loose with those wild furry animals, I had to take off my shoes and disinfect my hands properly in a separate room. All bags were left in the door, so the cats didn’t get exposed to any unnecessary germs from outside.

Almost immediately after I sat down in one of the café’s soft, pink sofas, a sweet, gray cat jumped in my lap, and it decided to stay there during the whole visit. The cats were really cute, but the true highlight of our visit was to see how those spoilt four-legged creatures wowed all the Japanese visitors, who followed every single move the cats made with a fascinated look on their face.

At the cafe’s website, you can find detailed information about each cat and small comic strips in Japanese featuring the cats. The café also has a blog with pictures of the cats, so you can keep up with what your favorite feline is doing.

Hapi Neko was a really nice place to be and such a delightful contrast to Shibuya’s noisy streets outside. The one hour passed so fast in this peaceful haven, and I fully understand that stressed out business people gladly spend their yens on a few relaxing hours in the company of the cats on their way home from work.

Hapi Neko is now permanently closed

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