There are well over a hundred cat cafes all over Japan, but there’s only one devoted exclusively to black cats – a cafe called Nekobiyaka in the castle town of Himeji. So when my travels took me to the nearby city of Kobe last week, I couldn’t resist taking a brief detour to check it out.


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I arrived just past noon, soon after opening time, and was greeted at the door by two of the six cats “on duty” that day, along with a human staff member who explained the cafe’s rules (no picking up the cats, no flash photography) and took my order for a cappuccino. After that I was free to play with the cats, using the cafe’s rather large selection of cat toys.

The cats here are unusual, they like playing fetch with a cloth-covered cat toy, and two of the cats were in hot competition to catch the toy in mid-air and then bring it back. Although the cats all look very similar, they wear different colored bandanas around their necks so that cafe visitors can tell them apart.

When you’re not playing with the cats you can drink your coffee (or a beer), being careful that it doesn’t get knocked over, and browse through the cafe’s collection of manga and magazines, many of them cat-related. All in all it’s a very relaxing way to spend an hour of your afternoon.

More info: animalcafes.com