In a country where many people live in places too small for pets, cat cafés are a booming business. For about $10 an hour, anyone (over the age of 12) can sip a latte and pet herds of cats for as long as their wallets hold out or until their allergies kick in. The most famous of these, the Kaliko Cat Café – with branches in Shinjuku and Kichijōji – has around 50 cats. Most of them are purebred – Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Munchkin, Persian, Scottish Fold, Tabby, etc. plus a few typical Japanese calicos with half-length tails. At any time, 25 of them are off duty in the back room sleeping, and the other 25 are on duty at the café…well, sleeping.
Cat cafés draw a mixed clientele of lonely singles and couples on dates. There are always a few regulars, who just like to sit and read their papers with a latte, pretending they’re at home being snubbed by their very own cats.
I went to the Kaliko when I was researching Fallen Angel, the second book in my mystery series. It became the home-away-from-home for the yakuza bodyguard who has a soft spot for a tabby he calls “Gonta,” but whose real name is “Chibbi”! My website The Tokyo Guide I Wish I Had, has directions to the Shinjuku Kaliko Café if you want to visit the next time you’re in Tokyo.