Picture a modest-sized bar where you order small finger foods and drinks. That’s known as an izakaya in Japan. Now picture a place where you play with cats as you drink tea. That’s known as a cat cafe. What happens when you merge the two? You get a cat izakaya (bar/pub), which is where my wife and I went one daring weekend while in Tokyo.
I’m allergic to cats. This makes anything involving cats very challenging for me, as I will get itchy all over and my sinuses will begin to clog up. My wife loves cats and wanted to give this a go, but not for too long. That was a good plan on our part, because most animal cafes in Japan will charge you a flat hourly rate in addition to requiring that you buy a drink or snack. Some places include your first drink in the price of admission but others don’t; buyer beware!
Akanasu Cat Pub
The pub we went to is called Akanasu Cat Pub, just a short walk away from the Ekoda station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line (the neighborhood it resides in is called Ashigaoka). The pub itself is on the second floor and hosts a cozy little environment where five cats reside: two reds, one tabby, one calico, and one white. The white and the tabby were very shy, as was the calico, but the two red cats were more willing to hang out and interact… to a point.
The goal of establishments such as this is to allow people to interact with the animals while enjoying a refreshing beverage, such as a highball or beer. The prices at Akanasu are pretty reasonable: 300 yen per hour to hang out, appetizer plates around 700 yen, and 500 yen draft beer (Asahi). The wait staff was helpful when we first came in, with our obvious foreignness about us. I’m not sure how many foreigners they get, as they seemed a little confused and unsure about what to do with us, as we were the first guests. Once more people came in, they seemed to relax more, which helped us to relax as well.
Review: Final Thoughts
It was interesting to give it a go, although, by the end, my allergies were kicking into full gear. Not being the biggest cat person, I’m not sure it was worth the investment for me. I could probably go to any bar or other izakaya and pay about the same to drink beer and not have difficulty breathing. For my wife, an ardent cat lover, I think it was completely worth it. She looked so happy just watching the cats loaf about or slink around the bar. If you’re interested, I’d say give it a try! The bar didn’t smell like a pet store and the bar staff seemed very aware of how to keep the animals in check when food was being served to ensure a peaceful, sanitary eating experience. Akanasu is a nice little diversion from the hustle and bustle, and for the right price, a good little watering hole… with cats!