Nekobiyaka: Himeji

Yes, it's the world's first and only black-cat cafe, located near Himeji's central station and along the route to the town's famous landmark castle. While there were only six cats present when we visited (the website lists a dozen), they were an extremely lively bunch - running around, jumping in the air, and playing a vigorous game of fetch with a cloth-covered toy. We're not sure, but we suspect that catnip may have been involved.

Since it's hard to tell the cats here apart, they all wear different-colored bandanas around their necks, and their names incorporate their identifying color. The staff will lend you a little book with photos of all the cats, listing their names and birthdays.

The cafe is attractively furnished in residential living-room style, with windows looking out onto one of Himeji's shopping streets. Background music is an odd mix of easy-listening and music-box arrangements of pop songs. Coffee and other soft drinks are Y400 (we had a very nice iced cappuccino), while alcoholic beverages start at Y600. Cat treats are not available, however.

Click on photos below to see larger versions
Himeji / Cat cafe
Open noon-9pm (Sun -7pm). Closed Tuesdays.
Cover charge is Y1000 for the first hour
Average visit time: 60 minutes
Himeji, Hyogo, Ekimaecho 322, Mifune Bldg 2F.