The town of Kirashiki, Japan is absolutely charming and there are many reasons to include it as a stopover during your Japan visit – but one of the most charming things we found there was a Cat Café.
The Japanese love cats. They are everywhere – particularly in advertising. You will find animated cats, cartoon cats, giant cats, cat figurines, cat sculptures, even an island that you can visit that is noted for its feral cats, Aoshima.
In Kirashiki, they have a Bengal Cat “Forest”. Essentially, you pay a few dollars to visit them. There are no food and beverages for purchase (for either you or the cats), this is simply a “visit”.
The cat “forest” is 3 large rooms that have been set up with artificial turf, benches and all sorts of climbing areas. You may read about each individual cat – names, genders, ages and a little bit about their personality. You pay for up 90 minutes in the “forest”.
I was really keen to go in; Colin not so much. But after an hour, it was Colin who was eager to stay and play with the Bengal cats. They were fascinated with his up-turned hat on the floor. Several of them wanted to play. Others were aloof and decided to strike a pose and simply look beautiful – as cats tend to do.
It was a delightful experience.
So, if you find yourself in Kirashiki, they have a wonderful “cat café”. However, I do believe you can find similar establishments in other Japanese towns as this is a very popular activity.
The Japanese also have an many owl cafés. We visited one in Tokyo which is purported to be the best. At Akiba Fukurou we saw more species of owl than we even knew existed. You must make a reservation as only a handful of visitors are allowed in at a time. You are allowed to take photos and they will also take your picture with an owl of your choice perched on your arm.
As a side trip from Kyoto, we stayed in a town called Nara which has a huge city park where the deer roam free and are very tame. You can pay a few yen to get “deer treats” and feed them.
You have to be quick though as you will soon find yourself surrounded by hungry deer who will nip at you if you’re not quick on the draw. I actually had one nip my derriere as I was feeding some of the others!
There is a lot to see and do in Nara and I recommended you take a look at this short YOUTUBE video to get the highlights!