Quirky Themed Cafes in Tokyo: Cat Cafes, Maid Cafes & More
Japan is a fascinating country to visit, not only for its historical and cultural value but also as a place for all things quirky and unusual. The capital city of Tokyo especially is famed for its quirky themed cafes, from animal petting cafes to character-based establishments and even restaurants where you fish for your own dinner, all of which make for a memorable travel story and a terrific photo op. Read on to learn more about Tokyo’s themed cafes and restaurants to check out on your next visit to Japan’s sprawling metropolitan capital.
Tokyo’s Themed Dining, from Cat Cafes to Fishing Restaurants
Tokyo’s cat cafes are amongst the most famous of Japan’s themed restaurants. The format generally involves paying an upfront fee to enter and frolic around with some fluffy kitties for a fixed time period. You can buy drinks while you’re there, and some cat cafes even have a manga section to lounge and read comics while you’re there.
Cat cafes are a perfect place to visit, not only for tourists in Tokyo, but for local residents who rent and aren’t allowed to own a cat, as many apartment owners forbid them. If you’re concerned about how well the animals are cared for, look for a cat café with plenty of high perches for the cats to escape to for a break when they’re not feeling particularly playful. Some cat cafes even specialize in rescue cats, with their kitties available for adoption to a loving home.
Tokyo’s dog cafes are similar to cat cafes but with a bit more energy. As a result, the café area tends to be sectioned off from the play area in case the animals get rambunctious. You can sit and pet a dog in your lap, play fetch in the playpen area with a loveable canine, or purchase treats to feed your new furry friend. There are even dog cafes where you can take an adorable pup for a walk outside. Also, like cat cafes, some dog cafes double as a space for introducing people to rescue animals looking for a forever home.
Dog cafes are perfect for those who can’t own a pet—usually because their apartment doesn’t allow pets or their house is too small for a dog, or if they don’t have enough time to dedicate to caring for a dog. Keeping a dog takes a lot of attention and effort, from walks to grooming and playtime, but a dog café is perfect for dog lovers who are craving a puppy fix.
Cats and dogs aren’t the only animals available for petting in Tokyo—those who love floppy long-eared bunnies can get their fix at a rabbit cafe. For a flat fee, get a beverage and some one-on-one time with a soft and fluffy bunny. Feel free to pet, snuggle, and feed them some dark leafy green veg. Just try to avoid feeding them too many carrots, which are the equivalent of junk food for rabbits being high in sugar.
One of the newer trends in Tokyo among themed cafes are hedgehog cafes. These prickly little pets can be sharp to the touch when they curl up, but cup one gently in your hands so it relaxes and unfurls, and you’ve got an adorable tiny hedgehog at your fingertips for petting. Hedgehogs still aren’t very well-known yet in Tokyo, but hedgehog cafes aim to teach more people all about these adorable little animals.
If animals aren’t your thing, but you’re still looking for some cute entertainment, maid cafes are one of the most distinctive themed cafes in Tokyo. Here you’ll find cute maids whose only wish is to serve their “goshujin-sama” (master), complete with a cutesy appearance, ruffled dresses, starched pinafores, and frilly headbands. The maids use the power of moe (pronounced mo-EH), which roughly translates to “cuteness”, to entertain as they sing, dance, play games, and otherwise interact with customers.
The maids have a lot of cute appeal for either gender, but any ladies who are feeling left out should check out the “butler cafes” of Ikebukuro, where handsome young men decked out in butler attire serve tea in expensive china, call you “ojou-sama” (princess), and cater to your every need.
For those with an appreciation for Japanese history, or at least for samurai stories, Sengoku era-themed restaurants provide plenty of look at along with some tasty things to eat. Check out historically accurate replicas of samurai armor, calligraphy scrolls, and the banners of various samurai clans while enjoying dishes like kensayaki onigiri, a grilled rice ball coated in miso, which samurai would take with them into battle or eat on their travels.
What could make a meal more delicious than working up an appetite as you catch your own food? Do just that at a fishing-themed restaurant, which has an artificial river running through the restaurant for you to hook your own fish and have it cooked on the spot. Even if it’s your first time fishing, the helpful restaurant staff will show you how to correctly bait a hook, catch, and pull up a fish. You can request to have your freshly caught fish sliced up and served as sashimi or sushi, or if raw fish isn’t your thing, have it cooked by boiling, grilling, or deep-frying tempura style. If you’re unlucky, you can always order directly off the menu, but some fishing-themed restaurants will offer a discount for the fish that you catch yourself.
Themed Cafes & Restaurants in Tokyo Are an Unmissable Experience
A visit to one of Tokyo’s unique themed cafes or restaurants is a memorable experience that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Check out Gurunavi’s listings for a guide to all the themed cafes and restaurants you could ever imagine and more.