By Vicky Amin
I hesitate to admit that it took my friend and I a full 2 ½ hours to locate our beloved cat café.
Both of us staunch cat lovers, we had been starved of feline attention for over 3 months. Thankfully our little excursion to Osaka meant that we would finally be provided with all the cat company we could handle... If we were just able to locate the place.
Our nemesis 'Apple maps' had been sending us in all sorts of crazy directions, and it wasn’t until we gave up on it and stuck to good old Google maps and street signs that we were able to make any sense of where we were. The kind people at Lawson and Family Mart were all big helps in pointing us in the right direction.
Neko no Jikan, supposedly the first ever Cat Café in Japan, is at the heart of Shinsaibashi entertainment district in Osaka, and is, as their website claims, just a quick five minute walk from Yotsubashi station (if you get out the right exit: Number 5).
It was worth the wait.
Going up the stairs to the second floor, we entered into a cat oasis of calm. You are welcomed by the sound of peaceful melodies tinkling out of the speakers, take off your shoes, and enter through the doors to cat paradise.
The staff speak little English, but luckily this is not a problem as they have the prices helpfully printed out for you. Option A: 1 hour with the cats ¥1000, Option B: 1 hour with the cats + a drink ¥1250 and Option C: 1 hour with the cats, a drink and cake ¥1500. We both opted for option A to maximise our time with the cats and so sadly cannot tell you about the food or drink, but it looked delicious.
You can also purchase other snacks and cat treats (¥210) at the counter.
It was everything we could have hoped for. When we went Neko no Jikan, it held around 15 cats, but this number fluctuates as the café takes in abandoned or stray cats regularly, as well as letting their own cats be adopted on occasion. They have photos of the cats on the walls, with descriptions of them and their names as well as cat photo albums for you to look at, books on cats for you to browse, and sketch books to draw in.
Our time at Neko no Jikan was over all too soon. Such a relaxing atmosphere and chance to play with furry friends happens all too seldom in Japan. We had picked our favourites (a munchkin called toto-kun for my friend, a black and white kitten called Aoi-chan for me) and were sad to say goodbye.
Luckily, we visited again the next day.
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George is a 20-something hitchhiker, solo female traveller and cunning linguist, currently teaching in Kyushu, Japan. She circumnavigates the globe and teaches languages to all those in her wake. She has travelled Europe and Oz extensively, and has taught languages in 6 different countries and counting. She writes about a mix of language learning, TEFL tips and general travel tales. Follow her journey at http://georgeonthego.org or on www.facebook.com/georgegoingdown or www.twitter.com/georgieonthego