Japanese Cat Cafes
Times are tough with the recession, and Japan, being one of the hardest hit by the economic situation, has all the right ideas. Imagine a cafe in which you can simply walk in, pay a small fee of $5 to $8 USD for an hour of typical cafe relaxation - but with a ton of cats lounging around with you. Japan can be a lonely, emotionally void place to live for some. Cat cafes are simply a relief to loneliness for some. Being in the company of twenty or so cats can work wonders for de-stressing. Owning pets can significantly increase your lifespan and quality of life, and I'd imagine spending an hour with them at your leisure could have similar effects [source].
Despite tough economic times, the Japanese still like to have fun. Japan's Cat Cafes are providing people quite a unique service - and they are popping up all over the place! At Ja La La Cafe in Tokyo (Akihabara district), you can rent out a selection of 12 professional cats. If cats aren't your fancy, you may have the option to rent out a cute bunny rabbit, or even a beetle. For some reason, these cat cafes are most appealing to single men in their 30's. This could be due to frequent business trips and having no time to buy their own pets to accomodate their busy lifestyles.
There are more than 150 licensed companies in Tokyo to rent/hire out animals of all varieties, dogs being the most popular. Basically, this is an awesome system for the companies that own these dogs - people pay money to walk them, play with them, and exercise them. It's truly a win-win-win situation, the company makes a small profit, the dogs are happy for the attention, and the people renting them out get a little slice of the feeling of owning a pet.
Kaori, a waitress, usually spends her sunday afternoons with a Labrador. She enjoys taking her rental companion for walks in the park, or snuggling in front of the TV in her apartment - "When I look into his eyes, I think he's my dog," She explains, "But when I take him back to the shop, he runs away from me and starts wagging his tail when he sees the next customer. That's when I know he's only a rental dog."
All of these creative new businesses usually have the same ideas in mind: happy customers, happy pets.
Enjoy some delicious tea or coffee in the cafes, read a magazine, or simply relax and pet a cat in your lap. It's all possible here in Japan, so keep your eyes peeled for them if you ever travel to Japan!
Funny cats, funnier fights
A busy cat cafe with more cats than people:
Feel free to play with any or all of the cute felines: