We were very intrigued by the notion of a Cat Cafe when we visited Japan. At first it seemed so foreign to us that people would go to a place to play with cats, rather than just have a pet at home.
Then we discovered that most places to live in Japan don’t allow pets, even though Japanese culture revolves around animals! There aren’t just Cat Cafes, but Dog Cafes, Rabbit Cafes, Bird Cafes, Snake Cafes, and even Goat Cafes. True story!
Keep in mind, Cat Cafe’s are not pet stores. The animals are not for sale, nor are they are in a box or behind a glass frame. At a Cat Cafe you go to play, feed, and love the cats. You can spend hours here, finding a companion or several, playing with the cat, nurturing and feeding it, only to leave it there at the end of your visit.
The downside? The majority of them don’t allow kids. We attempted a few, being shooed out the door blasted with the international sign for ‘you’re not welcome’ – arms crossed in a giant X over your body – before we realized this was the norm. We’d promised our littlest, and being obsessed with cats, she reminded us everyday! We scoured the internet for a cat cafe that would allow children and finally found one in the vicinity of where we were staying. It would only take 3 trains to get there! The day was planned out to visit it, but then we happened upon a child friendly Cat Cafe in Harajuku whilst walking down Takeshita Dori! Boy, were we all so excited!
Cat Cafe MoCHA
2F Prime Harajuku, 1-19-9 Meiji Jingu Mae, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, Japan
Hours: 10a – 10p
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
This place is so friendly, and so cute. They were very welcoming to our kids, and the cats are adorable.
Before you can play with the cats, you’ve got to take care of the niceties. First order of business, as is the norm in Japan, is to remove your shoes. They provide lockers and slippers for you in exchange, and you must also stow all goods prior to entry. You are given a wristband with your locker key and a sleeve that keeps track of how long you are in the cafe, and any extras that you purchase such as drinks or treats for the kitties.
The base rate was 600 yen (approximately $6 USD) per person for a half hour. After the initial half hour you can continue to stay, 10 minutes at a time, for an additional 200 yen (approximately $2 USD). Your time is clocked upon entry, and exit. They also offered additional up charges, available on the menu. After agreeing to the rules, which includes that you aren’t allowed to hold the cats, only pet and sit near, and no yelling, you are required to wash your hands.
Next: Play time!
Cat Cafe MoCHA is located on the second floor near the entrance to Takeshita Dori, on the left side. In addition to the delightful cats, it offers a great view of the busy street, and interesting people watching opportunities. The cafe is comprised of two rooms, and a hallway dividing them.
The first room houses a cat tree in the center of the room with seats, windows and cat furniture around the perimeter. The tree also has several warming lights, and it is obvious the cats enjoy lounging in the heat. Most of the people congregate in this room as there is more seating.
The second room is Alice in Wonderland themed, with a giant faux tree the cats can meander both inside and outside of. There is much more room to interact with the cats in this room, but not much seating.
The cafe houses a variety of cats, ages, colors, sizes, temperaments. The cats are pretty lazy and unamused. They don’t appear annoyed, but they aren’t exactly excited either. I can’t imagine they ever have a break from visitors, so that isn’t surprising. There are a lot of people clamoring for attention from the animals, but since you can’t hold the cats, you are at the whim of their disposition.
With 3 littles, we decided to splurge and spend 500 yen (approximately $5 USD) each so our kids could feed the cats a popsicles. It worked like a charm and the cats were lured to us. This was a very nice, though rich touch. Though they called them popsicles, a more descriptive word would be lollipops. They are fairly small, but have a good duration. My kids were thrilled as they had a trail of kitties following them wherever they went.
► For Kids: Without a doubt! If your children love animals this Cat Cafe is a great spot to give the kids a chance to pick the activity.
Though it’s a little steep, costing $50 USD for our family of 5 including the popsicles for only a half hours time, it was well worth it.
Have you visited a Cat Cafe before? Or maybe a Goat Cafe? Are the Goat Cafe’s located indoors? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! Read about more of our experiences in Tokyo, and all of Japan.
► Nap-Time Version: This is a definite must do in Harajuku. The attention from the animals, and a break from the heat and busyness of life in Tokyo, was a fun treat. Not to mention it was quite unusual and offered a taste of Japanese culture.