The Truth About Japanese Animal Cafes
The truth about Japanese animal cafés depends on your philosophy about life. The well being of café critters is a debatable subject. (Employees’ love of their birds, cats, dogs and hedgehogs, however, is uncontested.) Your perception of a café will probably depend on your sensitivity to seeing caged bunnies and clipped-wings birds.
Another truth about Japanese animal cafés: If you’re teaching English out in the countryside, you’ll need to catch a train to Tokyo. Or Osaka. Most if not all the cafés are in cosmopolitan areas.
Café may also be a misleading word in some cases. In some animal cafés vending machines are the source of the coffee or tea. Other places are bonafide afternoon tea spots. (Scroll down to see links to a menagerie of popular animal cafés in Tokyo.)
It’s true that a visit to a Japanese animal café is easier if you know a few words.
Let’s start with the animals.
Bird 鳥 （とり）"tori"
Owl フクロウ "fukuro"
Rabbit うさぎ "usagi"
Cat 猫 （ねこ） "neko"
Dog 犬 （いぬ）"inu"
Goat ヤギ "yagi"
Hedgehog ハリネズミ "hari-nezumi"
Snake 蛇 （へび）"hebi"
Bird / Owl Café Note: Some bird and owl cafés allow their birds to flutter above the people. Slickers, at the very least, hats are recommended. You don’t want to have to rush back to the hotel to wash your hair.
Cat Café Note: Many (if not all) cat cafés do not allow patrons to pick up and cuddle cats. However, at some cafés, cats can be enticed into your lap with treats purchased at an extra cost.
Here are a few polite phrases that are good to know whether in a café or not.
Excuse me. すみません。"sumimasen"
Thank you. どうもありがとう。"domo arigato"
I’d like to make a reservation. 予約をお願いいたします。
（よやくをおねがいいたします。）"yoyaku wo onegaishimasu"
Note: Reservations at most animal cafés are an extremely good idea.
Wishing you adventures abroad with your favorite animals!
The Ninja Baker
© ™ Watkinson 2012
The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.