Cafés where cat lovers play with feline friends have become popular in Japan. The Media Café Popeye chain’s Numazu Station South Exit branch along the JR Tokaido Line in Shizuoka Prefecture has pounced onto the kitty bandwagon by adding a cat room to its many amenities.
Since its humble beginnings in 2000 with five branches in Hiroshima Prefecture, Media Café Popeye’s visitors have enjoyed surfing the internet, browsing libraries of manga and the latest magazines, playing darts and billiards in game rooms, and even achieving that sun-kissed look in tanning booths. As the more than 85 branches now in operation throughout Japan are generally located near major railway or subway stations, commuters who miss the last train ( as well as travelers on a budget) take advantage of the chain’s shower rooms and private booths with reclining chairs or enough floor space to lie down in. Fees depend on how long visitors intend to stay and whether they wish to use a private booth or take a seat in the open lounge area.
At the Numazu Station South Exit branch, cats are on duty from 10am to 10pm. Visitors can move back and forth between their assigned private booths and the cat room, called Nyan Café, though they must alert a staff member who will open and close the lattice door to make sure the kitties stay inside. Chances are that some of the six affectionate feline employees, whose names are posted on a bulletin board, will rush from their climbing tree to the door to greet newcomers. Toy mice and birds are available for play time. A small bookshelf holds neko-themed publications to read here, as well as a few “regular” manga for those dragged in by an ailurophile companion. At night, the staff cover the door with a heavy cloth to allow the kitties to rest.
During operating hours, six humans at a time may sit on the comfortable sofa and floor seats of the Nyan Café to enjoy playing with the cats. Lint rollers are provided to clean up stray hairs on visitors’ clothes. How could an internet café get any better?