Tokyo Cat Cafe: Finding the Fairytale Forest of Temari No Ouchi
Cat cafes—places where feline-friendly folks can gather to celebrate all things quick, furry and above all cute—are everywhere in Tokyo. They can take many forms, from open, swanky apartments where coffee and cats go together like a charm, to dimly-lit, playful spaces where a ball of yarn and a snack—catnip for the resident felines and sandwiches for eager visitors—is always close at hand. But while many Tokyo cat cafes seem designed mostly for human enjoyment, Temari no Ouchi—tucked away in the charming, temple-dotted Kichijoji district—is a fairytale land that turns this idea completely around! Let’s step inside and find out what makes it so enchanting for both locals and foreign tourists alike.
The Inspiration behind Temari No Ouchi
Temari no Ouchi is inspired by the idea of nekko no mori—literally, a “cat forest,” a natural fantasy land that feels cozily removed from the big-city hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The sense that we humans are just visiting this land—with the gentle permission of the cats-in-residence—is actually all part of the overall theme. In fact, according to Assistant Director Misaki Shinchi, the cafe itself is named after Temari, the cafe’s oldest feline denizen, who is also considered the cafe manager and leader! She holds court over a bevy of beautiful cats, 24 in all, each with unique characteristics and personalities that make the world of “Temari’s House” complete. Let’s meet 7 of the most popular feline forest-dwellers.
A Cast of Cats at Temari No Ouchi
Temari is the face of Temari no Ouchi. This Scottish Fold is both leader and sometimes-strict sister figure of the group. With the triangle above her left eye and the distinct pattern covering her head, you can’t miss her!
Visitors just can’t get enough of this exotic shorthair cat’s crinkly face! Kinoko has a habit of twirling her tail. Despite being named after the Japanese word for “mushroom,” she’s still a cat—so pet, but don’t pick!
This cute, droopy-eyed Munchkin may have short legs, but he still runs circles around everybody! That he looks just like a mop while doing it is a tribute to his name.
With a “mask” that makes her look a bit like the Phantom of the Opera, this unique Maine Coon cat may seem mysterious—but the truth is that she is one of the most curious and open felines in the bunch.
Another popular exotic shorthair, he can usually be found napping somewhere inside the cafe. His big, round-yet-always-sleepy eyes make him somehow grumpy and adorable at the same time.
William & Fanny
William (the one about to take a step up) and Fanny
(the dapper one), two brand-new additions, also top the list of the most popular cats to play with at Temari no Ouchi.
A Truly Unique Tokyo Cat Cafe Atmosphere
While you’re falling in love with the cats, don’t forget to take in the fantastic atmosphere. Temari no Ouchi seems designed for felines, by felines, so much so that we might as well just call the whole look and feel “catmosphere!” Here are a few highlights that every visitor should definitely sink their claws into.
The first thing you’ll see when entering is The Treehouse, a charming structure in the center of the cafe that really looks as if it were carved from the trunk of an old tree. It’s the center of everything and, apparently, the most popular spot in the entire cafe.
The inside might remind you of a favorite Tolkien book, but on the outside….
You can see here just how small The Treehouse really is.
Find the Hidden Cats
When you’re done feeling like a giant, go around the back of The Treehouse and hunt for rocks in the walls. Sharp-eyed visitors might just catch a glimpse of some cute cat-shaped ones.
Explore the Nooks and Crannies
As any true feline fan knows, cats simply adore narrow spaces and holes that they can jump through and hide in. There are nooks and crannies aplenty here, from the clever cat-cave in the side of The Treehouse…
...under and over tables and chairs...
...and some other places that may actually give you paws!
Take the High Ground
Perhaps the only thing that cats like more than squeezing through little holes is climbing, and they get to do plenty of that here. There are even rock-like steps jutting out from some of the walls!
Cats with lofty expectations—like Temari, the leading cat herself—can keep watch on things from above…
…while some would just prefer to take a catnap.
Playful Food & Drinks Await
Of course, darting through holes, chasing your own tail or searching out the best place (or the perfect lap) to take a good, long nap can certainly burn a lot of energy.
For cafe cats the snack of choice is tori no sasami (basically, minced chicken bits), which you can have the privilege of feeding them for just 300 yen. Of course, when not being fed by their loving fans, each and every cat has a diet especially tailored to their needs.
Fortunately for hungry human visitors, Temari no Ouchi also prides itself on homemade dishes, original cocktails and delicious cakes baked right in-store. As for the feline-themed offerings, they are quite simply the cat’s meow. Temari no Ouchi doesn’t yet have an English menu, but seeing the food below is a good start.
Fuwa-fuwa Cafe Latte
This fluffy latte has more than just a cute name—it also boasts the absolute pinnacle of paw art! Make sure to get it in a paper cup, as each one shows a colorful rendering of Temari no Ouchi capturing very well the feeling of all cat-kind living there. Drink up—but not before ordering a snack.
Probably due in no small part to Kibitaro, a “fat cat” in residence who inspired the snack and is also the model for its package, the Mochi-mochi Dog (shouldn’t that actually be cat?!) is one of the most popular items on offer right now.
Dip it into a side of ketchup and dig right in for a surprise—there’s more to the pleasantly puffy outer crust than meets the eye.
While not quite as many menu items as there are cats, there are certainly plenty to choose from—so after giving out some catnip, please remember to feed yourself!
6 Simple Cat Cafe Rules
Of course, there are some simple rules guests should follow when visiting Temari no Ouchi; while this Tokyo cat cafe may be unique, the conditions are universal.
1.Take off your shoes before entering.
2.Wash your hands with rubbing alcohol.
3.Don’t pick up the cats or hug them too tightly (but do feel free to pet them, on the back rather than the head, especially if they approach you and sit on your lap).
4.Don’t bring in old cat toys (You may be allowed to bring in new toys, as long as you consult with the staff before entry).
5.Don’t use flash photography (but do feel free to use non-flash enabled smartphones, etc.).
6.Don’t feed the cats any human food. If you feel that a particular cat is bothering you while you eat, please tell a staff member right away.
Cat Cafe Souvenirs
Knowing that leaving the cafe empty-handed would be nothing short of a cat-astrophe, the staff at Temari no Ouchi have gone out of their way to create original souvenirs that will help you recapture your magical experience. These goods include pens, stickers, file folders and more, each one based on an actual feline-in-residence. According to Ms. Shinchi, the most popular one at the moment is a hand towel inspired by Kinoko, who is currently in the top 7 most beloved cats!
These goods are available only at Temari no Ouchi and its sister shop, Toko Toko Zakkaten, a nearby nick-nack shop that, in this extraordinary feline fantasy world, is run by another cat named Milk. As you can see, Milk is real! Why don’t you visit her shop and find out what’s in store?
The Best Time to Visit Temari No Ouchi
The best time to visit depends entirely on what kind of experience you want to have. Those hoping for a flurry of furry activity should drop in around 10 a.m., which is both the opening and the most active time of day.
On the other hand, the cats are most relaxed between 3 and 4 in the afternoon; you’ll want to visit then to catch them napping. Finally, there is Feeding Time starting at 6 p.m., where all the cats are brought together for a feeding, not to mention a terrific photo opportunity. Whatever time you choose to go, do ask about daily events like Mini Undou-kai (Mini Exercise Time) where you can see the cats tear around the cafe in a playful and furry frenzy.
More Than a Cat Cafe in Tokyo, a Cat Fairytale Forest
Whether you come alone or with friends, whether you want to plan a normal afternoon or rent the entire place for a birthday party, or whether you are a tourist or a local, none of that really matters. For Ms. Shinchi, Temari no Ouchi is a relaxing refuge from the city, a place where people can come together to celebrate the joy of the feline form. Reserve your place in this magical forest today!