People in Japan are just as obsessed with cute animals as anyone else. However, access to household pets is minimal. Because of tight living conditions in apartments, Japanese people in the city typically don’t have room for pets. In order to interact with animals despite this barrier, many people turn to what is known as animal cafés.
In case you haven’t had the pleasure of being in an animal café yourself, I am here to show you the ropes. There are a few nuances that the employees will outline as you enter the café, and you will learn independently. But why not show up and wow everyone with your knowledge?
I had the opportunity to visit the Kyoto Mameshiba Café with my classmate and friend Emilee Hall. Emilee touched on our experience in the café in her article “10 Most Instagrammable Spots in Tokyo.” Emilee and I found the café as we walked through a covered shopping area with our friends and classmates Katharine Robertson and Grant Langford.
“We were in this cool outdoor/indoor mall when our group stumbling upon some animal cafés,” Emilee Hall said. “Dylan pointed out a Shiba (Inu) café! I was so excited because I was missing my Boston Terrier, Daisy, at home.”
Entry into the cafe
Admission was 800 Yen ($7.42 USD) for 30 minutes. This might sound steep at first, but this was just right for us. As we walked in, we were instructed to take off our shoes and sanitize our hands. As I saw, there were two main areas where you could play with the puppies, an upstairs and downstairs. We were brought to the upstairs area.
As we walked in, we were offered a beverage from a vending machine that served everything from coffee to soda. After we found our spot, we sat next to four tables that were about two feet tall. Occupying the space with us were several Kyoto locals, who had their digital cameras in hand. They had been here before, it seemed.
Immediately, the puppies began sprinting around the café and wrestling one another. This surprised me, for in all the videos I have seen of Shiba Inu dogs, they are docile and lethargic. Emilee and I sat and laughed as they started and stopped wrestling.
Sometimes one of the puppies would come around to us and let us pet them, and then it was off to the races again. This continued until our 30 minutes were up. I must say, the experience was stellar. I had a wonderful time watching the puppies zip around the space and playing with them.
“Playing with the little pups was so therapeutic,” Hall said. “They had so much energy and loved to lick!”