Tokyo is a place full of surprises and the increasing number and variety of animal and pet cafes that have been cropping up, will not fail to interest animal lovers. Even if you’re not an animal lover per say, a visit to a Japanese pet themed café is a unique experience not to be missed!
Penguin bar is the only place in Tokyo, where you can enjoy drinking and eating in the company of penguins. The penguins are at the far end of the room behind the glass in a mid-size aquarium. If you are lucky and your visit overlaps the penguins’ meal time, you might get the chance to feed them. The Interior of the café is all penguin themed starting with hand towels (oshibori – A traditional Japanese towel used to clean the hands before eating) to the water pitchers. As a bar, it offers a variety of drinks, and has a good selection of alcoholic beverages. Penguin themed food and desserts are also available. With only a few tables and bar seats, this place can only fit a limited number of people at once. Therefore, prior reservation is highly recommended. Online reservation is available through the website http://www.penginbar.jp/en/. The time limit is 90 minutes and there is an entrance fee of 800 yen, unless you order a SET menu (options are given on the website).
Access: it’s approximately a 10 minute walk from the West exit of Ikebukuro station.
Owl cafes are the latest big thing in Tokyo now, so there are many to choose from. We checked out the “Ikefukurou cafe”, the one very close to Ikebukuro station’s Seibu exit. The owl is a symbol of Ikebukuro station, as if you change the ‘bu’ of “bukuro” to ‘fu’ becoming “fukuro”, this means “owl” in Japanese. You can also see statues and sculptures of owls around the station. This owl cafe hosts owls of different breeds, colours and sizes. You can pat them and even hold them with the support of the cafe staff. The focus of this café is not so much on eating or drinking, but spending time in a quiet and lovely atmosphere with these majestic, flying creatures.
It’s a relaxed and calming environment and there are English speaking staff, so you can ask questions if you wish. Due to the café’s convenient location and popularity, prior reservation is required and can be done via their website http://www.ikefukuroucafe.com/information.html. The entrance fee is 1400 yen (1600 yen on weekends) and includes one drink.
Besides owls, believe it or not, there’s a good choice of other bird cafes in Tokyo. Kotori café near Omotesando is one of the popular ones (there is another one in Kichijoji). With a good choice of bird-themed cakes and different flavours of tea, one can’t help but feel like they’re at a quaint children’s tea party surrounded by the sound of birdsong. When ordering food, you are asked if you’d like to try an optional service of holding one of the birds for 5 minutes. Due to the popularity of the café, your visit time is limited to one hour from the time you order a drink or food.
Reservation is recommended and there is no admission fee. There is a 500 yen charge for the experience of holding one of the birds. Venue website: http://kotoricafe.jp/ ( Japanese only)
For other bird and owl cafes, please check out this list:
1. Tori no iru café in Asakusa and Kiba (http://toricafe.co.jp/asakusa-en/ and http://toricafe.co.jp/kiba-en/ respectively)
2. Falconer’s café in Kichijoji (http://falconerscafe.web.fc2.com/)
3. Fukurokoji café in Nerima (http://fukurokojicafe.blog78.fc2.com/)
4. Hawkeye in Oshiage (http://1st.geocities.jp/takanomesky/03/index.html )
5. Café Baron in Koenji (http://fukuroucafe.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-2.html )
6. Akiba Fukurou and Forest of Owl in Akihabara (http://akiba2960.com/ and http://2960.tokyo/ respectively)
Rabbit cafes and cat cafes have also been popular in the city for quite some time now. We visited one near Ikebukuro station and recommend it to anyone who likes the cuddlier domestic animal, as oppose to birds. “Mimi” café is home to around 20 rabbits, which are divided into three zones, which you can move between. You can play, stroke and feed the rabbits and take pictures with them if you like. The entrance fee is 1200 yen (1300 yen on weekends) for a one hour visit (including a drink), 800 yen for 30 minutes. Venue web-site: http://www.usa-mimi.com/
Other rabbit cafes:
1. Ms. Bunny in Roppongi (http://ms-bunny.com/en)
2. Usabibi in Ikebukuro (http://usabibi.net/ in Japanese only)
3. Ra.a.g.f in Harajuku and in Jiyugaok a(http://raagf.com/ in Japanese only)
4. Usagi no Ehon in Shimo-Kitazawa (http://usaginoehon.web.fc2.com/index.html in Japanese only)
5. Candy Fruit Usagi no Yakata in Akihabara (http://candyfruit-usagi.net/menu.html in Japanese only)
6. Floche in Yotsuya (http://ameblo.jp/usagi-floche/ in Japanese only)
7. Usagi café Ohisama in Shimokitazawa(http://www.rabicafe.com/index.html in Japanese only)
If you are interested in Cat cafes, here is a list of a dozen in Tokyo, which can be found at the following website: http://www.whereintokyo.com/dbinx/animalcafe.html. For those who prefer dogs, there is a dog café called “Dog heart from Aquamarine” near Yoyogi park (http://dog-heart.ico.bz/).
If you like less traditional pets, the Reptile Tea House and Tokyo Snake Center might interest you. The Snake cafe is located in Harajuku and prior booking is required, especially at weekends (http://snakecenter.jp/ in Japanese). The Reptile tea house does not require prior reservation and is located just a 5 minute walk from Hinodecho station in Yokohama. It is a relatively spacious place with aquariums and a special area for petting the reptiles. You can find turtles, lizards, snakes and other reptiles there too, as well as some beautiful breeds of fish. The café offers delicious tea and some other drinks and sweets. Web-site: http://www.reptilescafe.net/yokohama/heng_bang_ya_re_dai_cha_guan_Top.html (Japanese only)
If none of these animal cafés tickle your fancy, you might want to check out the goat themed restaurant. The Sakuragaoka restaurant is located in the busy Shibuya area and offers great Italian food at reasonable prices. Goats will welcome you near the entrance. Many people just stop by to look at and take pictures of the goats. You can also feed them, if you wish, when it’s their meal time. The venue website is: http://www.udagawacafe.com/sakuragaoka/en/about/
Don’t forget about the humble goldfish too, Tokyo also has Goldfish cafes. One of them is Kingyo in Yoyogi (http://www.kingyo-cafe.com/) and the other one Kingyozaka in Hongo (http://www.kingyozaka.com/). Also a lesser known restaurant in Tsukuba (one hour from Tokyo) gives you the chance to enjoy your meal with a view of flamingos in the garden outside (http://www.mehico.com/shop/index.html Japanese only).