Japanese society features a strong respect for laws and regulations. Quite frequently they are unwritten and implicit in interpersonal relations, job behavior, affections, etc. One of these rules, demanded of some tenants in rental contracts – terminating the contract if broken – is the prohibition of pets in your apartment. You might find this a rather unusual rule, but remember that homes are small and that pets may produce bothersome noise.
Animals absent, some people find it very hard to live without their favorite pets. For them, around 2004 in the city of Osaka, the first “cat cafés” appeared. These are bars or cafés which offer regular food service and also let you interact with cats of different breeds in installations specifically designed for this.
These cafés were immediately popular among feline enthusiasts (in only five years almost 80 of these places were opened in the country), but a great amount of the public preferred playing with other types of animals that were still not available. That is how after a little while “dog cafés” started appearing; the first one in the area of Dotombori, also in Osaka.
These new cafés were different from the first ones because besides adult dogs, they also had puppies. No cat café offered interaction with pets so small. Taking into account that dogs have different needs from cats, some dog cafés even offered the option of renting the animal for a specified amount of time to take it for a walk or visit a park. This is surely very different from the way people participate with their pets in the West. But, when the demand for cafés with classic pets was satisfied, new visionaries appeared on the market to expand the available options.
That is how two new types of businesses were opened in the already saturated market of cafés with animals: rabbit cafés and owl cafés. The first kind is easy to imagine, as rabbits are very suitable for this type of establishment and are cute enough to lure passersby to enter. But owls are sometimes scary-looking because of their beaks and their sharp talons. In order to avoid accidents with visitors, in this last type of café there are several caretakers who walk around the tables constantly checking that all is in order and the animals are not suffering stress.
With an offering of birds different to owls, bird cafés appeared on the scene. Although the word “bird” includes a large type of different varieties, in these bars it is possible to interact with Agapornis (small parrots, love birds and such birds).
An additional variable that was added to the offering of animal cafés is not specific to a type of animal but invites the guests to dive into a special habitat. In the city of Yokohama (a few minutes away by rail from Tokyo) we find the intriguing Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse, which has a great variety of reptiles, all in their respective tanks. Iguanas, turtles and even snakes form part of the inventory of this unusual café.
It is true that these animals belong to a more natural habitat than a commercial establishment. Yet, there is no doubt that local authorities oversee that all regulations pertaining to their sanitary health and good care are fulfilled. In my experience in this type of café, I have always found at least one employee with veterinary training in order to take care of them in case of an unforeseen event that could endanger the creature.
So, if you want, you can share a fun time with these friendly domesticated creatures. I recommend this particularly Japanese way of relating to your pets: have a delicious coffee, a good piece of cake and pamper your favorite animals.
|Name||Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse|
|Address||233-0033 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, Naka Ward, Chojamachi, 8 Chome−133|
|Access||[map]233-0033 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, Naka Ward, Chojamachi, 8 Chome−133[/map]|
|Opening Hours||11:00 - 21:00 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays)|
|Price Range||Drinks around 800 YenFood plates around 1500 Yen|