While we were in Akihabara 秋葉原 district, otherwise known as otaku おたく town or the birthplace of the popular girl group AKB48, we visited one of the most enchanting cat cafes in Japan, Neko JaLaLa. Contrary to what you may think, the cat cafe niche didn’t originate from Japan. Taiwan started the whole hype, but was further popularized in Japan, with now over 40 cat cafes established in Tokyo alone.
While planning our itinerary, we found Neko JaLaLa on TripAdvisor, and it’s received one of the most positive reviews from visitors. We’ve been dying to go to one of these pet cafes just because our parents forbid us to own neither cats nor dogs since forever (but once we’re married, getting a dog is one of the first things to cross off on our to-do list). A slight off from topic here: Now as I’m writing this, I’m beginning to regret we didn’t list one of the most popular niche cafes in the country, Akiba Fukurou, on our itinerary. It’s an owl cafe also in Akihabara, where we can all pretend we’re attending Hogwarts. But if you’re interested in other animals, check out the complete list of petting places you can visit at animalcafes.com.
Anyway, back to cats. You’re at the right place when you find a wooden door fittingly decorated with pictures of cats.
To prevent escapes and protect new visitors, they have a second door once you step beyond this one. On your left there’s a lady behind a sliding bamboo cage who will take your reservations. Once it’s your turn, you will be called to enter the second door. Get ready to take off your shoes and place them on the shelving units on your right.
Several ground rules before you start playing with the kitties include not bringing your own cat(s), washing your hands before you touch them, making sure you don’t have any allergies, not being drunk or violent or smoking cigarettes, no camera flash and red-light effect, and many, many more. You can pretty much guess how much care and attention these diva kitties receive on a daily basis just before entering – staff takes feline welfare very seriously. Once they invite you into the second threshold, they’ll take your drink orders, then hand you an English booklet to guide how you can interact with the cats, where I learned cats like it if you pet them super gently from the head down while they’re napping.
Drink menu includes coffees, teas, and flavored teas. Since it’s a one-drink order system, you’ll be charged with a separate bill for your next order. Time slots for your stay start at 30 minutes – it’s the slot we took and it felt like time fled:
- 30 minutes: JPY 530
- 60 minutes: JPY 1,010 M-F, JPY 1,060 Sa-S + holidays
- 90 minutes: JPY 1,490 M-F, JPY 1,590 Sa-S + holidays
- 120 minutes: JPY 1,970 M-F, JPY 2,120 Sa-S + holidays
You can still stay longer if you’ve picked the 120-minute slot – you’ll be charged JPY 530 at every 30-minute increment.
Now, the cats …
You’ll be surprised just how gentle these humongous cats are. They all weigh an average 10kg, and they all look so primped and healthy and robust. You’ll slowly see more and more cats the further you go inside, spotting one hiding behind another coming out of furniture corners, underneath bean bags, on top of counters and elsewhere in the compact room.
There are 12 cats that I’ve snapped as they lounge and move and hop around, but there are, like, 15 more that I didn’t get a chance to either see or snap, and I really, really, really wanna see Luca and Shee! Cats not in my pictures:
- Lala ララ (Norwegian forest)
- Chika チカ (Munchkin)
- Anne アン (Abyssinian)
- Taki タキ (Ragdoll)
- Luca ルカ (Scottish Fold) (like Dr. Olivia Benson!)
- Ragg ラグ (Ragdoll)
- Bell ベル (Bengal)
- Mari マリ(Somali)
- Batt バト (American curl)
- Shee シィ(Persian)
- Brit ブリ(Maine Coon)
- Moco モコ (Munchkin)
- Miii ミィ(American curl)
- Yuki ユキ (Mix: Persian + American curl)
- Coco ココ (Maine Coon)
Without further ado, here are le kitteeehhssss:
I’m a dog person (to be more accurate, a pig person), but evidently, this place has some super kawaii 可愛い kitties, although I’m still not planning to get a cat anytime soon. Judging by this 30-minute interaction with these feline buddies, I couldn’t be more patient caring for these divas in the long run. They’ll be kings/queens of the house, they won’t shower you with licks and love once you get home from work, and most of the time, they’ll just be busy doing their own thing (read: staring, scratching, napping) and remain coldly indifferent towards you.
But if you’ve got time to chill and a cat-loving date to impress, the best time of the day to come to Neko JaLaLa is between 10am to 2pm, when it’s not going to be least packed with visitors. I suggest you making you reservations early, as the cafe can only fit 10 humans at a time.
Neko JaLaLa~ ねこ・ジャララ〜
M-S 11:00am – 20:00pm