The Cat’s Meow: Cat Cafes in Japan

You already knew that Japan was obsessed with cats from Hello Kitty. And how about Maneki Neko, the “Beckoning Cat” sculpture of the waving cat that is meant to bring good luck. Well then, you shouldn’t be too surprised to hear about our visit to a cat cafe. Yes, a cat cafe – do we even have these in The States? While in Kyoto, Neetha and I made a stop over at one and spent a half hour petting some friendly felines. You pay by the half hour, and with the admission cost you get a free drink and entry into the area with about a dozen or so cats. Most were sleeping (duh, they’re cats) but a few frisky ones were up and ready to try to steal some of our iced coffees or to play along with us with the cat toys. The whole idea of a cat cafe is interesting to me because I grew up with cats in the house and so I never thought much about having to go out of my way to see them. However, apparently many landlords in Japan don’t allow pets at all, so a lot of younger people are starved for some cat attention. There’s also something very soothing about spending some time around cats: even during the short half hour we were there, I could feel myself unwind a little and feel more at peace with every minute I spent petting the giant gray furball behind me. In a country with a crazy hectic work culture, they may be onto something with this. It’s also known to have a more friendly vibe for a cafe, and some people even go there on dates so the cats can be the icebreaker during those awkward moments.

Oh but there’s more. If you didn’t get enough cat love at the cat cafe, stop by to say hello to Tama the Cat, the station master in Kishi. Tama is a real cat, a calico in fact, and he’s quite popular in Wakayama. As a station master, he’s been photographed wearing his conductors hat which makes him look quite dashing. People take the half hour electric railway ride on the super fabulous Tama the Cat Train and go oogle Tama as he sits back and watches his adoring fans behind glass. Ok, in reality the poor cat looks like he’s over all the glitz and paparazzi, as we soon realized after staring at his backside for a few minutes. But even with a less than zealous mascot, the train station in Kishi is still pretty entertaining as the whole place is decorated with Tama photos. Neetha and I were probably a little over the targeted age range there, but we still had a good laugh about it.

Japan’s obsession with cats is just another pro to the growing list of reasons that Japan is an awesome place to visit. Meow!

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