Only in Tokyo can you share a table with a cat, an owl, or maybe a life size plush toy. Cat cafes were the first themed cafes to appear here, but these days, there is a far greater choice. Today you can have coffee with cats, rabbits, reptiles and even robots.
Because I’d never before had the pleasure of visiting a cat cafe, I had to try it out and conveniently for me there was one very close to my hotel, in amongst the bright neon lights of Shinjuku.
Just beyond the sixth floor entrance I find a TV and gaming console area, so presumably if you feel like playing video games with an audience of disinterested cats, you can stop here for a while, but I head straight down to the fifth floor cafe where I find a range of cat toys and 50 resident cats.
You'll Need To Book A Table With Owls
A small cover charge allows you to stay here for a couple of hours, and you can then opt to pay an hourly fee for each additional hour. An hour is plenty for me though, before I go in search of the next quirky cafe.
One of the latest Tokyo cafe trends is the owl cafe, where you can spend some time in a small cafe with a selection of owls of all shapes and sizes.
The most popular owl cafe in Tokyo is Akiba Foukorou in Akihabara district. There’s a cover charge here as well, which includes a drink, but you need to reserve a time-slot with the owls over the phone or online before turning up.
The cafe is decked out in lace curtains and large chandeliers and the waiters are dressed formally in waistcoats and Trilby hats, which just makes the whole experience a little more surreal.
There are about 20 owls in the cafe, perched on bars throughout the room, from tiny and cute to large and scary-looking. There is no food on offer here, but the customers are far more interested in taking owl-selfies anyway.
Across town at the huge Tokyo Dome City complex, the Moomin Bakery and Cafe is more about the ‘Kawaii’ (cute) factor.
Check these themed hotel suites too. World’s Best Character-Themed Hotel Suites
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Moomins Come With The Menu
Moomins are fictional creatures that feature in a series of children’s books by Swedish author Tove Janssen. Relatively unknown outside Scandinavia, Moomins are hugely popular in Japan.
The Moomin Cafe is decked out with images and creatures from the books and at each table there is a life-size plush Moomin character to keep you company while you eat. The menu features Moomin shaped donuts, Moomin shaped omelettes and cappuccinos dusted with chocolate Moomin shapes.
Back in Shinjuku the quirkiness is turned up full blast at Robot Restaurant where we head for dinner and a show.
Not far from Shinjuku Station, the entrance is difficult to miss. Giant fembots greet passers-by and there is a band dressed up as Power Rangers cranking out sounds.
In the lounge there are giant TV screens on all the walls and ceilings playing some Japanese warrior princess video and everything that isn’t TV screens or flashing lights, is gold.
We’re given a toy (robot) dinosaur to play with while we wait for the floorshow to start, before dinner is served in a Bento Box and we watch a group of sequined bikini-clad girls singing and dancing their way through a story of good triumphing over evil, ‘evil’ in this case being robot dinosaurs and giant sharks.
So from cats to life size plush toys and robot sharks, Tokyo really does have a novelty cafe to suit every mood, from the relaxed atmosphere of the cat cafes to a rockin’ robot cabaret.