If you’re a cat lover, you’ll probably already know that Japan is a country obsessed with cats; one of the best-known good luck charms is a beckoning cat. Here are 10 places you must visit for all things cat-related.
Disclaimer: After reading this post, you will definitely want to book a one way flight to Japan.
1. Cat Cafes
There is not just one cat cafe in Japan but over 150, 39 of them in Tokyo, where you can relax with a hot drink and a cat curled up by your side. Cat cafes have become popular because many apartments are too small to house pets and besides, owning a pet is pretty expensive in Japan. So, instead of having to look after one all the time, you can just pop into a cafe when you’re in town and have a cuddle with a feline friend. Sound like the perfect day out? Of course it does!
2. Cat Islands
Cats are dominating a dozen of the islands around Japan and people are loving it (well, maybe not the locals). On Aoshima Island, cats outnumber residents six to one. When you arrive on the island, you are instantly greeted by cats and believe me, they really are everywhere. This is definitely a must see for cat-lovers – you’ll never want to leave!
3. The Hello Kitty Store
First introduced in Japan in 1974, Hello Kitty has taken the world by storm. You can now buy Hello Kitty merchandise, home appliances and diamond necklaces, and there is a TV series, an album and even a jet plane. The Hello Kitty Store at Tokyo Solamachi is an absolute must-see for die-hard fans, with exclusive merchandise that is only available in-store.
4. Alice in Wonderland Restaurants
Alice in Wonderland is extremely popular in Japan so naturally, there are several Alice in Wonderland restaurants where you can eat Cheshire Cat-shaped spaghetti then dance it off on a Cheshire Cat dance floor. Need I say more? Thought not. Here’s a list of the top five in Tokyo.
5. The Home of the Lucky Cat
Lucky cats or maneki neko (lit. ‘beckoning cats’) are believed to bring good luck to the owner and are often placed in the entrances of shops, restaurants and other business premises to invite positive vibes and prosperity. If you could do with a bit of good luck yourself, check outthese lucky cats which can be found a little closer to home!
6. Cat Temples and Shrines
The maneki neko even has its own Buddhist temple in Toyko. Gotokuji Temple is filled with thousands of lucky cat statues, a tradition dating back to the Edo Period (1603 to 1867), when it is said that the temple's cat saved a feudal lord from getting caught in a huge thunderstorm.
On the eighth floor of the Ikebukuro Tokyu Hands store is a Nekobukoroor ‘cat’s house’. This is like a cat cafe without the coffee; a cat petting zoo if you will. Visitors are provided with treats to feed to the cats, and there are loads of areas to visit and even a cat train whizzing around. Basically, it’s like a giant playground for cats and big children. What’s not to love?
8. Cats in Kimonos
We thought cats couldn’t get any cuter but we were wrong. Here are a few pictures of cats in kimono, the latest feline phenomenon taking Japan by storm. Number 13 is definitely our favourite!
9. Maneki Neko Matsuri
At the end of September, Seto hosts the lucky cat festival, a showcase of all things cat related. Adults and children walk around with cat face paint on, watch the parade and enjoy the range of activities on offer, such as ‘paint your own lucky cat moneybox’. This is the same town where you’ll find the lucky cat shrine, so visit in September to make the most of the cat-spectacular.
When all else fails, become a cat. Necomimi are brainwave-activated cat ears that move depending on how you’re feeling. They come in a range of colours and you can even mix and match if your friends have some too. Here is a video so you can see them for yourself:
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