Japan is known for its abundance of popular cat cafes. But felines aren’t the only animal-themed venues the country has claim to, with a menagerie of other niche creature-themed commodity stores available to the public.
Here’s the zoo of pay-to-play options Japan has to offer.
Cat and dog cafes
Japan has the artful mixture of cat and coffee mastered, having opened 150 in just the last decade. In these hot spots, anyone can cuddle with cats for an hourly rate of up to 1,000 yen (about $10).
And it gets even more niche than that: there’s one rather elitist cafe which specializes in black cats, presumably for witchy and non-superstitious souls.
Japan is home to a number of dog cafes as well. Deco’s Dog Cafe, for example, lets customers not only share the company of dogs, but share their meal, too: the menu offers both human and canine versions of the same dishes.
While cat cafes flourish, other novelty cafes have cropped up across Japan as well to compete. Lately, some amazing owl-themes teahouses are getting noticed, such as the creatively named “Owl Tea House” in Tokyo and “Owl Family” and “Crew” in Osaka.
Many of these cafes have owlified menu options that match in aesthetic the shop’s big eyed, fluffy necked guests.
Some owl cafes let customers hold the birds, but others have stricter handling rules, presumably because as cute as they are, they can also be dangerous . But hey, you might be too with a disrupted sleep cycle.
There can’t be much sweeter than a bunny cafe. Several are popular in Japan, such as Ra.a.g.f, pronounced “raf,” and the Rabbit Sun Cafe.
You can buy a rabbit for yourself from their breeding centers if you are willing to commit, the JT says of one cafe. But the “Rabbit Staff” are not for sale, so don’t get too attached.
These bars – and yes, there are multiple – have been around for years, many likely under the same management. Patrons booze up while the penguins do their thing, and at feeding time customers are sometimes allowed to interact.
Notable establishments include “The Bar In Which Penguins Are Present” in Tokyo, “Penguin Bar Fairy,” and “Bar Little Feet.”
In America, this might just be your backyard, but in Japan, it’s a plaza devoted to showcasing the wonder of squirrels to anyone that appreciates the dexterous tree-climbers and their robust tails.
Most of these establishments let you touch and feed these furry friends, too. One Tokyo squirrel garden, called Machida Risu-en, has over 200 squirrels roaming about.
Goats, reptiles, and more
Cafe Little Zoo in Chiba provides the exotic company of turtles, iguanas, snakes, and birds of prey, along with yummy dishes like green curry, pilaf, and fondue.
And though there is only one in Tokyo, Sakuragoaka Cafe lets customers spend quality time with a delightful pair of goats named Sakura and Chocolat. Patrons can pet, play with, and even walk these fellows around the bustling city.
Apparently, these goats have wow factor — and the owner hopes to open an elephant cafe next. We don’t know whether to be excited or upset by this literally enormous possibility.
Originally published May 16, 2014.