Neko no Iru Kyukeijo 299: Tokyo Ikebukuro

The name translates as "rest spot where there are cats," and this pretty accurately describes the operation here, much better than just calling it a cat cafe. It's a big sprawling room full of people (there were over forty customers on the weekday afternoon we visited), with far fewer cats (seventeen in all), many of them either asleep or taking a break.

Many of the cats are related - so many, in fact, that it's like a few cat families have taken over the space. Among the familiar breeds are a couple of unusual ones: a cute Norwegian Forest Cat and a large pitch-black Maine Coon cat. Feeding times are 11:30am and 9:30pm if you want to see everyone awake at the same time (well, the cats anyway, maybe not the humans).

There are comfortable armchairs and bed-like sofas as well as office chairs and desks, and most customers were reading magazines or flicking through some of the 2,000 manga, using computers, snoozing or just playing with their phones; only a few were petting cats. This is literally a place where you can come to recharge your batteries - adapters for most popular mobile phone models are available for your use along with ample electrical outlets.

The cover charge is in increments of ten minutes, and you can help yourself to unlimited coffee and soft drinks for an additional Y350. If you want to hang out somewhere for an hour or two, this is an interesting alternative to Starbucks, but if you really want to play with cats for an hour we'd suggest one of the other venues in the neighborhood.

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Neko no Iru Kyukeijo 299
Tokyo Ikebukuro / Cafe
Open 11am-10pm daily.
Cover charge is Y200 for 10 minutes
Average visit time: 30-60 minutes
Higashi-Ikebukuro 1-23-9, 5F.