All the Cats! Edo-themed Cat Cafe Opens in Tokyo For the Summer
If you love cats as much as we do, then you won't be able to resist photographing, feeding, and talking about cats. When we heard that Japanese people were going crazy over Edo Cat Cafe - a limited time Edo-themed cat cafe that's currently running in Tokyo until December 2, 2018 - we just had to get the scoop on it! Read on for all the juicy details and pictures of irresistibly adorable cats.
Aug 02 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
**Due to popular demand, this pop-up cafe will now run until December 2 (Sun), 2018!
The History Behind Cats in Japan
To better appreciate all the artworks in the cat cafe, one must understand the deep relationship Japanese people have with cats.
Before the Internet even came into existence, Japanese people were already worshipping cats through art and literature. For example, during the Edo period (1603 - 1868), Kuniyoshi Utagawa - a famous ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artist - created several works of art that focused on cats. The genius Japanese novelist, Natsume Soseki, also wrote a masterpiece on cats that is still talked about today, "I Am A Cat".
Other than art and literature, you'll find shrines dedicated to cats, islands only for cats, and even famous characters like Hello Kitty that were designed to look like cats! Click on the link below to be taken to an article on one cat shrine.
Inside the Cat Cafe
Now that you've learned a bit more about the connection between Japanese culture and cats, it's now time to reveal the cafe itself!
Snap Pictures of the Gorgeous Interior!
The gorgeous and intricate set-up is the first thing you'll see when you enter. Not only are there props of cats dressed up in an Edo fashion, but you'll also find small structures that you can enter and a rest area further inside.
This is the inside of one of the small structures. You need to remove your shoes to enter, but once you do, you can sit down and wait for the cats to come to you. Some of them like to play hide-and-seek using the props!
Even on the walls, you'll find cat-related ukiyo-e works. They all come with Japanese and English explanations, so while you're waiting for a cat to come to you, feel free to look through them. You'll learn a lot on the history behind cats in Japan!
Since it is summer, they have installed beautiful Japanese wind chimes all throughout the facility. There's air-conditioning inside the cafe, so you'll definitely get to hear their rings. Come and take a look at their lovely designs!
Write Your Wish on a Cat Ema!
"Ema" are wooden plaques that people write wishes on. If you've got a wish and you'd like to write it on something cute, why not pick up a cat ema and write it down? Note that it costs 500 yen per board.
Cats have free reign of the place, so don't be surprised if one of them starts pulling on the ema or walking all over them. This particular kitten just couldn't resist the red string!
When you're done, you can hang it up on the rack in the picture above. As you can see, tons of people like to do it, so hang yours up before the rack gets full!
Observe Cats Being Cats
All the cats here come from Cat Cafe Calico Musashino (Japanese only), which is one of the most famous cat cafes in all of Japan. They only house rescue cats. Visiting Edo Cat Cafe grants you a 20-minute extension for your next visit to Calico.
Unlike many other cat cafes, you are actually allowed to pet the cats here. Just go at it with a gentle hand and they'll respond well to you.
*It is prohibited to hug or pick up a cat.
"If it fits, the cat sits". This phrase is true even in Japan. There are baskets scattered throughout the cafe, so if you're lucky, you'll see a cat jump in!
There are also holes for cats to go in and out of. Where they go, nobody knows. But don't be startled if you see a cat peek out of one!
Edo Cat Cafe also lets guests interact with kittens, which you usually don't see in cat cafes. Yes, they get tired easily, but there's no need to worry, as the organizers switch them out for another group of kittens every hour.
You'll see a lot of cats just lounging about the cafe. The different sets all make for extremely Instagram-worthy photos, so if you want to take a break from playing with the cats, just start snapping away!
*All these cats are adoptable. If you are interested in adopting one of these cats, please talk to the staff. However, please understand that foreign residents and especially tourists will have a tough time adopting any animal in Japan.
*Flash photography is not allowed.
*Please do not bring cat toys or food into the venue.
Feed a Cat!
In order to protect the cats' stomachs, only 5 servings of these special and unique cat treats are sold per day. One of them is ochazuke (a bowl of rice steeped in tea) and the other is frozen ice-cream! They are made from ingredients that are safe for cats to consume.
*The ochazuke is made with ingredients like carrots, shredded chicken, etc.
*The ice-cream is made with chuuru (a cat treat made from minced meat).
If you're lucky, more than one cat will crowd around you to grab a treat!
Bring Home a Cat Souvenir!
On display, the cafe has several professionally drawn ema that they plan to sell at the end of the event period. You have to fill in a form to get chosen for one and pay up 5,000 yen once you are chosen, but they are amazing souvenirs of your time there!
They also sell cat mikuji (fortunes) for 400 yen each. These mikuji are shaped like "maneki neko", which are figurines that beckon for something. If the right paw is lifted, the cat is bringing wealth and good fortune to you. Having the left paw raised means customers or people will come to you. The origin of maneki neko is believed to be the cat shrine mentioned in an earlier section, so check it out to learn more!
They also have a souvenir shop filled with cat-related goodies for both humans and cats. They sell out really quickly, so we recommend getting there early in the morning to avoid disappointment. This phone case was particularly popular and sold out in minutes!
I'm Interested! How Do I Sign Up?
You can purchase a ticket on the day by using the ticket vending machines in the reception hall. Instructions are written in both Japanese and English.
You can also avail of Lawson Ticket if you want to buy your ticket online, but do note that the website is only available in Japanese.
Directions to the Cafe
If you're not sure how to get there, just follow these instructions!
Get off at Ryogoku Station.
There are two exits. Take the West Exit.
Once you exit the turnstiles, head out and turn right. You should see a huge line of people waiting to enter the building.
If you arrive on a miraculous day when there's nobody waiting, this is the poster you should look out for.
We've been to a lot of cat cafes before, so we didn't really hope for anything different. However, this cat cafe exceeded all of our expectations. The cats were friendly and lively, the staff were incredibly nice, and the whole place was well-lit and gorgeous.
One thing we'd recommend people to do is to come early. When we arrived at 11:00 am, the line was ridiculously long. When we left at 12:30 pm, the line was split into two and even longer!
Though you may have to wait in line, it's well worth it! Whether you're a cat fanatic or even just an art appreciator, you'll definitely walk away with something good to say. You'll also be able to take a bunch of Instagram-worthy pictures and videos!
Sound interesting? If you end up going to this cafe, let us know either through Facebook or Twitter. Just tag @tsunaguJapan or #tsunaguJapan!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.