By Jemma King
The deer in Nara Park may be the first animal most people associate with Japan’s ancient capital city of Nara, but just a few blocks away is a haven for cats and the people who love them. Located on the first floor of the Hotel Cube, Neco Bar Café employs eleven cats to welcome visitors.
The feline staff includes a Siamese, American Shorthairs, mixed breeds and, of course, Japanese Bobtails and a gray-and-black tabby known in this country as Nihon Neko. Visitors may wear out the buttons on their cameras taking pictures of the cute kitties posing around the room. When not playing with people or the toys supplied by the establishment, the cats love to scale their climbing tree, nap in egg-shaped chairs, or lounge on the glass-paneled walkway over the humans’ heads. Visitors who wish to do so may purchase snacks to feed to the moggies, and look over photo albums of Neco Bar Café’s staff along with books and magazines about felines. While sitting in low chairs along the wall, humans may even be lucky enough to find cats curling up in their laps.
Neco Bar Café is only open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Up to eight humans may visit at one time. One hour’s admission costs 1000 yen for an adult, and 700 yen for children through kindergarten age. Students, as well as guests of the Hotel Cube, may enjoy a 90-minute session for 1000 yen. Extensions are available in increments of thirty minutes for 200 yen. As its name suggests, Neco Bar Café serves alcoholic beverages, as well as coffee and other soft drinks. The cover charge includes the first beverage, with prices for subsequent drinks ranging from 300 yen for hot coffee to 650 yen for draft Guinness beer. Visitors under 20 may only consume beverages appropriate for their age.
Ten minutes’ walk from Neco Bar Café is the city’s Naramachi district, nicknamed Nyaramachi for its abundance of shops selling cat-themed goods, some of which have feline staff. While technically not located in Naramachi, Neco Bar Café is a wonderful place for cat fans to stop in on their way to or from an expedition there.
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