It turns out that cats aren’t the only animal to have earned their own line of themed cafes in Japan. There are cafes for puppies, for owls, for lizards, for birds, for snakes, and more. I even heard about a pug cafe in Kyoto!
Though I can’t say that I’ve ever been particularly interested in spending my afternoon with lizards, there was one animal – my favorite animal, actually – that I’ve been hoping to visit ever since my cat cafe excursion… Hedgehogs!
On a day trip through Kyoto, my friend and I decided to stop by a hedgehog cafe called Tom’s Mr. Hedgie where you can hold, feed, and play with a hedgehog for up to an hour.
Apparently, most people make reservations in advance, but we arrived without a reservation and were seated within a few minutes. The staff member who’d led us to our table handed us rules and instructions for properly handling our hedgehog. (I asked for the English version.)
The cafe itself was immaculately clean, brightly lit, and smelled like flowers. And it was well-decorated with an impressive spread of hedgehog-themed goods: ornaments, photos, stuffed animals, and lots of miniature sized trinkets and accessories.
By far my favorite thing about it were all the warm, smiling faces! Everyone seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the quality time with their hedgehog playmates.
After choosing a time limit (we opted for 20, the cheapest option), a staff member brought us a yellow bucket, a paper towel, and a hedgehog of our own. His name was “Paido.” He was a baby and new to the cafe, so he scared easily and didn’t enjoy being held. I only got to hold him for a total of about 30 seconds by the time he’d made it clear that he wanted to be put down. My friend had a similar experience, so we let Paido be and watched him wander around the yellow bucket for the remaining time.
After 20 (short) minutes, Paido was escorted from our table back to his glass-walled home – which, in all honesty, he was probably relieved about.
I can’t say that 700 yen for 20 minutes is a price I’d be willing to pay again, but I’m happy to have had the chance to hold my favorite animal for the first time! (Even if it was short-lived.)