Hesitation will be a familiar feeling for anyone venturing into a cat cafe for the first time — do these things actually exist? Is this actually normal? Curiosity may have hindered the fortunes of one proverbial cat, but you would do well to let your curiosity guide you to Nekorobi, a relaxing Ikebukuro getaway for cat lovers and non-cat lovers alike.
Curious? Venture up to the third floor where this cafe is based and there's likely no escape anyway — the cats will quickly notice you through the double glass doors, pondering who their new visitor is. Some may even be asleep on the slippers stand as you enter. Yes, slippers. Just like at any ryokan or onsen, you'll need to switch to approved footwear, not to mention abide by a number of quirky, but logical, rules. This preliminary ritual involves washing/disinfecting your hands and putting away your belongings and shoes in one of the lockers (after all, you wouldn't want to walk out with a Scottish Fold hiding in your bag).
Then, the cat cafe experience begins proper.
Cats just mooching about, some asleep, some climbing around or being fed. Others being groomed by staff or patrons, some hiding (perhaps to sleep) and others switching (sleeping) positions. It's a relaxing, calming experience. And that's the point.
This cat cafe seems to get everything right, and attracts a younger crowd to prove this (so no crazy cat ladies here). The fast-paced Tokyo lifestyle outside is a world away from the serene calmness inside Nekorobi and it is a great experience for tourists and locals alike.
On weekdays, the first hour is ¥1000 (thereafter ¥250 per 15 minutes) or ¥1250/¥300 at weekends. If an hour with a dozen or so cats wasn't enough, this also covers 'free' drinks (hot/cold) from the vending machine, Wi-Fi, laptop and Nintendo Wii usage. They even do a bookable ¥2200/3 hour course, which makes this a genuinely good alternative to Starbucks for the remote worker.