#73: Visit a cat café
With the best of intentions, I set off the other morning with a few people from my hostel, cheerfully headed to the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Blinded by our hubris, we were originally planning to change trains to get from Asukusabashi to Tokyo Station– but when our first train came along and we saw it proudly stated it was going to ‘Tokyo’, we were like, yup. Cool.
10 stops later, we were on the other side of Tokyo and hadn’t come anywhere near Tokyo Station. Curses. Lesson learnt: if the train says it’s going somewhere, check the map. Because it’s probably just trying to trick you into a one-hour long sightseeing loop, courtesy of JR.
Anyway, on the other side of a city of 24 million, we got off at Ikebukuro Station and decided to go to the cat café there instead– kinda like the Imperial Palace, but fuzzier. I’ve read a lot about these places online and I was dying to see what they were like (being an avid cat fan myself), so off we went!
The one we chose to go to was called Nekorobi, and I had a fantastic time there. You can find their English website here, which explains their rules pretty thoroughly. There’s also a map there, but I found it didn’t really help us that much, as we still had to ask a group of Japanese ladies where it was (and they were kind enough to walk us there!). From Ikebukuro Station, it’s about an 8-10 minute walk. Basically, go straight when you leave through the East Exit, then walk until you get to a main road with a train track above it, and it should be a block or so to your right. The entrance is kinda hidden too, but there’s a big Nekorobi sign and it should point you into an elevator lobby where the café is on the third floor!
Firstly, you have to open and shut the little gate before you open the main door, otherwise you’ll probably have some rogue cats on your hands. Shoes go in the little book-case like thing next to it, and there are bags provided to put your shoes in if it’s raining outside.
Next, you’ll be greeted by a staff member and instructed to both clean your hands and then sanitize them in the bathroom. You can also store your bags in lockers, free of charge, which is kinda nice! The price to be in the café was ¥1000 for an hour, but it was fairly reasonable for what it was. For this amount, you get unlimited hot or cold drinks from the vending machine;
You also get unlimited complimentary cookies, use of the café’s Wii and flatscreen (which we played a couple of Japanese women at Mario Kart and got our asses kicked on), and of course, the loving company of the furry employees.
It was a really relaxed atmosphere in the room, apart from one poor wee guy who was extremely unhappy about having a bath and getting brushed afterwards– tortured meows permeated the room every now and then as the two staff members struggled to get his knots out.
On the whole, though, I was surprised how friendly and well-behaved the cats there were. My cat back at home isn’t even a lap cat, so it was kinda cool how these cats would just rock up to you and go to sleep.
There are also some cats you’re not supposed to touch– if they’re sleeping inside a cage, it means they’re taking a rest from being around humans, and this cute wee sign on the cage says not to play with them.
On the whole, I loved my time here and would recommend it to anyone staying in Tokyo for a wee while! It’s the kind of experience you won’t be able to get many other places, so take the opportunity if you can.
After that, we had some food, shopped for a bit and went our separate ways. I was totally floored by how huge Ikebukuro was, though!
The above was actually a Bic Camera outlet store on one of the main roads in Ikebukuro. The deals in there were staggering– on the 5th floor, you could get PS3/360 games for about ¥400 each, a hair-curler/straightener (new) for ¥1460 and a rice cooker for ¥500. Crazy!
Ikebukuro Station is something it itself to behold, as well. There’s a number of shops inside it, as well as a humongous food court which was both decently priced and amazing to look around. If there’s one thing Japan is good at, it’s food presentation! Mayumi and I bought a box of 5 slices of assorted tarts from this shop for ¥1050, which was awesome!
There were some strong contenders for my spare change, though…