If you love cats and coffee, Tokyo has you covered with at least 39 cat cafes. Japan has more than 150.
Cat Cafe MoCHA, in the Harajuku neighborhood, is favored by tourists. As they walk in, customers get cute cat ears to blend in with the furry friends. Patrons can choose coffee and tea from a vending machine and pick a spot to play with the cats while enjoying a hot beverage.
Cat cafes originated in Taiwan Taipei in 1998 and it became popular with Japanese tourists as well as local visitors. One took the idea back to Japan, and the first Japanese cat cafe opened its doors in Osaka in 2004.
The popularity of the cafes has increased as people interact with cats to help relieve the stress of a busy urban life. Outside the areas where tourists visit, Japanese businessmen happily play with cats as a way to relax and forget about work for a while.
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Cat cafes moved into North America in 2014, with the first one opening in Montreal. Oakland was next, and then New York. The Cat Cafe in January 2015 became the fifth cat cafe in the United States. But the design is different from Japan’s. The cats are separated from the food and drink area because of food service regulations.
The trend has expanded all over Japan and isn't exclusive to just cats. Owl cafes have been popping up. At least half of Tokyo’s eight owl cafes opened in the last two years.
Some believe the surge stems from Japan’s obsession with trendiness, but owl popularity is also linked to the popularity of Harry Potter.
Esther Medina is a regional video editor for McClatchy and based in Miami.
Contribution from Bucketlist Checked