As you may know, Japanese city dwellers are willing to pay an hourly rate - as much as 1,000 yen (about $12 or £7.50) - to mingle with kitties.* Cat cafes (1st image, more photos here, video here) have been around since 1998 and now number in the dozens. Inspired by the fact that so many apartment buildings ban pets, the cafes are licensed and regulated, and sometimes feature the companionship of a particular breed.
Well, now a new trend has reared its fuzzy head: cafes where patrons can spend time with rabbits. Competing establishments opened within the past couple of years:
- Ra.a.g.f (2nd image, video here) - pronounced "raf" and standing "Rabbit and grow fat"! - offers the company of 20-30 rabbits, which can be handled and fed fresh vegetables. Customers who can't get enough in either of 2 locations can buy live bunnies from the cafe's breeding center or merchandise from the gift shop.
- Usagi Cafe Ohisama (video here) - which translates as "Rabbit Sun Cafe" - was opened by the owner of a pet shop and shares 30 rabbits with its mainly female clientele, including the manager's own (very popular) pet "Naito-kun."
- Usagi no Ehon ("Rabbit Picture Books") has only 7 rabbits on site, but has become a hangout for the musicians and actors who perform in the area. "I want our cafe to be a healing space for stressed-out people," says Etsuko Kawasaki, who runs the cafe with her family.
*And pet rental apparently extends to dogs, ferrets, and even beetles.