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culture tokyo

2013.10.24

Cafés to interact with animals (3⁄3)

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? Next we’ll visit an unconventional shop!

Experience the fascinating world of reptiles at “Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse - Reptiles Café”

Just as the name would imply, “Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse - Reptiles Café” is a café where you can meet reptiles. It is in the Hinodecho area of Yokohama, which is known as an entertainment district. Regarding the selection of this spot for the café, owner Atsushi Nagano says, “Nearby there are famous reptile and amphibian shops, and there’s also Nogeyama Zoo, which keeps lots of tortoises.” We hear there are actually many customers who stop into multiple reptile-related spots in succession.

This is Nene, an African spurred tortoise in the free range area. She moves about more aggressively than you might expect!

This shop has no entrance fees, either; customers are OK as long as they order food or drinks. In addition, there are no time limits. In the tanks along the walls and the ”free range area,“ where you can enjoy interaction, there are around 40 animals comprising 20 species, including reptiles such as snakes, lizards, turtles, and geckos, as well as amphibians such as frogs and newts.

The café interior is comfortable and spacious. There are tanks along 3 walls, and the free range area is in a corner in the back.

This is a Brazilian rainbow boa that is over 3 kg. When exposed to light, its scales shine with rainbow colors.

Reptiles Café may have the image of being for die-hard enthusiasts, but when we visited, we could feel the excitement! As soon as customers finish ordering their drinks, they race over to the tanks. In particular, female customers squeal with delight at every move the reptiles make, as excited as if they were meeting celebrities.

“The charm of reptiles is that they’re so unfamiliar. The experience seems to be particularly fresh for young women who were raised in cities, never having a connection with animals like lizards,” says Mr. Nagano. We hear that upon visiting the café, some people get so into reptiles that they begin keeping them as pets. Indeed, while taking photographs, we began to become aware of reptiles’ appeal, including their mysterious patterns and shapes, their cute, round eyes, and their smooth movements.

This is Kenichi, a Guyana Caiman lizard with a torso like an alligator and a face like a lizard. He has an outstandingly strange attractiveness.

There are no additional fees required to enter the free range area. Inside there are 5 tortoises, 4 lizards, and an iguana.

Another aspect that the shop is selective about is the authentic Chinese tea. “The animals don’t initiate action themselves, so another appeal of Reptiles Café is that customers can spend time here at their own pace. Customers can brew 4 or 5 cups of the hot Chinese tea, so I want them to relax and enjoy their time,” says Mr. Nagano. It seems like one could enjoy themselves here at a deliberate pace, drinking tea at their table and then visiting the tank, then having more tea and going to the free range area. How about paying a visit to the fascinating world of reptiles yourself?

It’s also possible to interact with Akira, a green iguana. These iguanas can reach a maximum length of 180 cm! We hear that when Akira matures, he will be the largest animal in the café.

Right: Flowering tea that is a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. “Globe amaranth jasmine tea” (1,000 yen). Left: Reptile-shaped homemade “rice flour cookies” (100 yen).

“Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse - Reptiles Café”
Tomimori Shoji 2F, 8-133 Chojamachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Phone: 045-263-4015
Shop hours: 11 AM - 8PM (last order 7 PM)
Regular holidays: Tuesdays, Wednesdays
http://reptilescafe.net/


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