I admittedly am a dog girl, specifically puppies (because they are the cutest animals on the planet!) It is actually on my dog bucket list to be locked in a room with dozens of puppies while they lick my face with their delightful young dog breath. Is that weird? Maybe. But, not nearly as strange as the Calico Cat Café in the Shinjuku prefecture of Tokyo.
By now, cat cafes have slowly begun springing up all over the world—from Helsinki to New York. Some cities may have just the one cat café, while others have a few to choose from. And then there is Tokyo, and Japan in general, where there are plenty. And one of the best (and most popular) is the Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku.
Check out this article for more of the best things to do in Tokyo.
Best Quirky Café in Japan?
Tokyo’s Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku
What is a Cat Café & Why are they Popular in Tokyo
Japan is known for its unique experiences, like Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant where scantily clad girls ride twelve foot steel horses as live stuffed animals prance around the stage. So it wasn’t a complete surprise to learn that there were places in the city where you could not only get a cup of coffee, but could also pay up to twenty bucks an hour to hang out with a bunch of friendly felines.
Originating in Taiwan, a cat café is literally that—a small café where dozens of cats roam free. The felines are allowed to walk, play and sleep anywhere they choose inside the premises, while toys, cat trees and beds are spread all over. You are also fully allowed to interact with the cats as much as you’d like, provided that your new furry friend is okay with it.
In addition, you are typically expected to take off your shoes before entering. Also, the coffee is usually a little bit more expensive than other cafes, but in this case, you are paying more for the experience than the coffee, anyway.
What makes cat cafes so popular? Although you can find cats, dogs and all sorts of other pets in many homes all over North America and Europe, the same is not the case in Japan, especially in Tokyo. There are many buildings in the city where having a pet inside is not permitted by the landlord. Additionally, many of the apartments are so small that there’s often a lot of hesitation over whether it’d be a good home for a pet that desires space. Thus, cat cafes (and dog cafes) emerged to offer not only possible sanctuary to otherwise homeless strays, but to also offer the citizens of Tokyo, a place to pet, love and enjoy the company of an animal for a few hours.
About Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku
The Calico Cat Café is located within an easy reach of Shinjuku Station, and is open seven days a week from 10am to 10pm. It is the biggest cat café in all of Tokyo, housing around 50 cats! There is a fee to pay at the entrance, which is around $15. The interior of the café comprises of rows of benches attached to the wall, in front of which there are small tables with cup holders onto which you can safely put your coffee beverage. There are also plastic drink “menus” available with pictures (which is helpful when almost everything is in Japanese!). Plus a binder filled with some basic information (name, birthday & breed) of the cats residing at Calico Cat Café.
Just like other cat cafes, you’re expected to take off your shoes to put in a separate locker right outside of the café, and then you get a pair of slippers with which to enter the café. Upon entering, the first thing that was noticeable was the strong aroma. It smelled like a litter box. A dirty litter box. I suppose that shouldn’t be a big surprise. I was surprised they didn’t go online and do some research to find a trusted review for the Litter Robot or something of the sort – to keep the cat turds contained, and the smell to a minimum.
Alongside of your coffee, it is also possible to buy some snacks to treat the kitties with. Trust me, if you do this, within seconds you’ll become the most popular and loved human patron at the café—an instant cat lady! Well, for as long as the treats last, at least. Without them, you will be mostly ignored with barely a glance from the lazy cats.
Something to keep in mind before entering the café is that in a short span of time you’ll meet many different cats with many different personalities. Some of them will gladly play with you, while some might not be interested at all. And some of them might not be too keen on being touched by you, while others will climb onto your lap the moment you walk in!
There are also many different unique breeds that at the Calico Cat Cafe, most that I had never seen in the United States. Some were striped like a tiger, some had mushed faces and others had stubby little legs like a Corgi dog. There were Siberians, Abyssinians, a Russian Blue and so many other varieties.
Other Popular Cat Cafes in Tokyo
Of course Calico Cat Café is one of the best cat cafes in Tokyo, but it is not the only popular one. Here are a few more cat cafes Tokyo has to offer.
- Neko no Mise: The oldest cat cafes in Tokyo!
- Akihabara’s Neko JaLaLa: This is the one to go to if you’re especially interested in cats of exotic breeds.
- Asakusa’s Monta: This café has less than a dozen cats, but all of the cats are of different breeds and known for their great personalities, on top of which Monta stands out especially for its great quality of coffee and other menu items.
- Temari no Oshiro: If you’re looking for the cat café with the winning interior, you’ve got it right here. Plus, they allow children.
Other Fun Things to Do in Shinjuku
Although visiting Calico Cat Cafe will be one of the most fun and memorable activities you’ll get into in Shinjuku, while you’re in the area, be sure to check out these fun things to do as well:
- Visit Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s 45th floor observation deck at sunset
- Go to the movies in the middle of the night at Shinjuku Wald 9 Cinema
- Drink at the Golden Gai Bars
- See Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
- Fish you own dinner at Zauo
- See the show at The Robot Restaurant
- More things to do in Tokyo
Did you already add a cat café in Tokyo to your bucket list? If not, then here is where you should do so! Whether it’s Calico Cat Café, or another one you’re about to have one memorable afternoon with some furry friends.
Essential Travel Tips for Visiting the Calico Cat Cafe
Shinjuku Calico Cat Café Information
Getting to Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku: To get to Calico Cat Café, get off either at Shinjuku Station or at Seibu-Shinjuku. In the case of Shinjuku Station, get off from the left side of the East exit. Head straight and past the intersection, then continue straight ahead. Turn right at the big street you’ll reach shortly after, cross the street, turn to the street on the left right after Family Mart, and then take your first left again, which is the street Calico Cat Café is on.
Seibu-Shinjuku is even closer, just a 2-minute walk away. After getting out of the station, walk straight until you reach Don Quijote. Turn to your left, and then turn to your right to the street between Don Quijote and FamilyMart, you’ve already reached your destination!
Note that it’s a little tricky to find, but so is everything else in this city. Just keep an eye out for the cat photo and symbols; everything else will be in Japanese. Also, be aware that the entrance is on the sixth floor, though the cafe also takes the 5th floor, but you can’t enter on the fifth.
Where to Stay in Tokyo: With so many wards in Tokyo, choosing a hotel location can be mind-boggling. But, if you want to be where the action is, Shinjuku or Shibuya may be the best district to stay for your first visit; both are conveniently located with easy access to shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and public transport. Plus, they look like the Tokyo you typically see on television with bustling streets, towering skyscrapers, and flashy neon lights. In Shinjuku the JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom is just a three-minute walk from the south exit of Shinjuku station. For a more budget-friendly gem try Tokyu Stay that has locations throughout the city including Shinjuku and Shibuya.
If you want to venture to other wards, the Tokyo Station Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city and right above the Tokyo JR station.If you want to avoid the bustle of the city, head off the beaten path to the original boutique hotel, Claska.
Getting Around Tokyo: Though taxis are available throughout the city, they can get expensive and besides, Tokyo has an incredible subway system. The Tokyo Metro can take you just about everywhere you’ll want to go. If you don’t want to navigate to metro, then most of the major attractions can be accessed with the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus.Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing are Travelex Insurance
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