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Cafés to interact with animals (1⁄3)

In Japan, cafés that let you get up close and interact with animals enjoy popularity, with the variety of cafés increasing every year. So what is the charm of these “animal cafés,” which are currently a mainstay when it comes to healing spots? First, let’s take a look at cat cafés, one of the major types!

“Nyafe Melange”
Check out the mature cat café culture!

When discussing animal cafés, surely cat cafés spring to mind! At these cafés, you can interact with carefree felines. We heard the first of these was in Taiwan. Once the first cat café appeared in Japan in 2004, more locations were quick to pop up around the country, captivating the hearts of cat lovers, and “cat refugees” (those who aren’t able to have a cat at home) in particular.

The standard plan at “Nyafe Melange” is 1,000 yen for 1 hour. Instead of paying a fee to extend the time, there is also a value plan where 90 minutes is 1,500 yen. Both plans include one drink on weekdays.

“Nyafe Melange,” which is a 3-minute walk from Ebisu Station, is a safe recommendation even for those who have never been to a cat café. In a rarity for cat cafés, customers are permitted to wear their shoes inside, which is ideal for travelers. After going through reception and using disinfectant, it’s into the shop!

There are 23 cats in the 60-70 m2 space, but there is barely any smell at all! One of the charms of Nyafe Melange is its thorough cleanliness. “We pay very close attention to sanitation. We disinfect the floor every day with a steam mop,” says Yumi Akimoto, the owner.

This is Guri, a feline celebrity who has appeared on book covers. The cats here all have glossy fur!

Is Lulu a bit timid? It’s important to determine the personality of each cat.

One of the great points of this café is that the cats are all spirited, with well-kept fur. One can see that great effort is made to care for the health of all the cats. At any rate, it’s great fun to snap photos of the cats and use toys to play with them--even just gazing at them doesn’t get old. The healing power of cats is amazing. If you want to be especially popular with the cats, purchase a “cat snack” (100 yen).

Feel free to use the toys. Sometimes the cats start playing all by themselves!

From the right are “coffee” and “iced yuzu tea.” On weekdays one drink is free, and on weekends they’re 300 yen apiece. On the left is a “cat donut,” available only on weekends (580 yen, including a drink).

While there are some cat cafés that seems to feel that just having cats is enough, it’s clear that Nyafe Melange is also selective about their interior and café menu. “Ebisu is a competitive spot for cafés, so we also carefully consider our shop’s feel in that regard,” says Ms. Akimoto.

If you go to a cat café and focus on the cats the entire time, you may find that things drag on a bit. One of the true charms of this café is that you can pass the time luxuriously, making yourself comfortable while having lots of cats nearby. There is a refinement to the cat illustrations on the cups and other objects, and the shop has also established an ambience all its own. This is a café that symbolizes the maturity of Japan’s cat café culture.

The shop has crafted an interior that keeps the cats happy while also having refined taste. Perhaps people keeping cats as pets could pick up a few pointers.

Nyafe Melange
Mani Building 3F, 1-7-13 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Phone: 03-5449-4024 Shop hours: Monday - Thursday, Sunday, Holidays 12 PM - 8 PM; Friday and Saturday 12 PM - 9 PM Open all year (except for New Year holiday)