A Visit To The World’s Only Black-Cat Cafe

There are well over a hundred cat cafes all over Japan, but there’s only one devoted exclusively to black cats – a cafe called Nekobiyaka in the castle town of Himeji.

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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.

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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.

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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. Cat treats are not available, however.

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The cats here are unusual in that they like playing fetch with a cloth-covered cat toy, and two of the cats were in hot competition to catch the toy in mid-air and then bring it back. By the way, although the cats all look very similar, they wear different colored bandanas around their necks so that cafe visitors can tell them apart.

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When you’re not playing with the cats you can drink your coffee (or a beer), being careful that it doesn’t get knocked over, and browse through the cafe’s collection of manga and magazines, many of them cat-related. All in all it’s a very relaxing way to spend an hour of your afternoon.

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