Japan is a country where the world Metropolis comes fast to mind. Cities here are large, people are serious about their work, and personal space is severely restricted. In such a place, where stress build-ups often reach catastrophic proportions and people don’t have the time or space for pets, sometimes the only way to relax is to find a nice cafe somewhere and relax with a cute animal. This is where the Pet Cafe comes in to fill a crucial role in society.
While not originating in Japan (the first pet cafe was opened in Taiwan in 1998) Pet Cafes have taken their place as a necessary way for the people of Japan to unwind and indulge in the mental-health benefits of getting close to animals. After the first Japanese cat cafe opened in 2005 the idea of visiting a pet-based cafe has taken to the hearts of people world wide; with new cafes opening in countries across the globe. Japan though maintains its dominance on the most cafes, both by variety and sheer number.
Pet Cafes also function as necessary adoption and breeding services for animals whose habitats may be becoming limited by human expansion, or for injured animals needing treatment and rehousing.
While on a trip to Japan recently one Geek Girl Authority staffer decided to make their trip focus on visiting every pet cafe they could find. The lesson we learned: If you can think of an animal, it’s probably in a cafe over here.
The quintessential variety of pet cafe: cat cafes are numerous and a perennial favorite. Some focusing on specific breeds, some working as adoption agencies, all of them a delight where you can sit down, have a drink and get climbed on by some four-footed felines.
Walking around Kyoto we found a cafe specializing in Bengal Cats; a particularly energetic breed and one perfectly suited for the cafe life.
Feathered friends have become hugely popular on the pet cafe circuit, with owl cafes taking the number 2 slot for most often seen cafes. Exotic and friendly these birds of prey have quickly found a home among the cafe culture of Japan; much to the delight of tourists and locals alike.
Soft, floppy, friendly and cuddly, rabbits are the perfect cafe pet. This local cafe acted as the bunny adoption agency for the surrounding area as well as a place to just get in some lagomorph cuddle time.
Moving into the more obscure range of pet cafes it’s tough to go past the reptile houses for cool-but-strange places to visit. While not furry, fluffy or particularly cuddly the reptile cafes maintain that atmosphere of cool that you don’t find in many places. These cafes are full of every kind of non-aggressive lizard, snake, amphibian and miscellaneous scaled creature imaginable.
If the idea of coiling up with a snake, being nuzzled up to by a bearded dragon, or lounged on by an iguana sounds like your kind of fun then look no further.
While not exactly a “Pet Cafe” Nara Deer Park may as well be considered the largest animal cafe around. This 660 hectare strip of land around Japan’s first capital city has around 1,200 wild deer that will happily follow you around, playfully headbutt you, and will never leave you alone if they think you have a biscuit.
One of Japan’s most beloved tourist hot-spots Nara Park is home to temples, shrines, beautiful gardens and enough deer to make even the most avid animal lover feel overwhelmed. Comfortable around humans to the point of bowing to you when you have a biscuit in hand the deer of this park will be your constant companions throughout your journey.
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