Having a refreshing drink in the company of black cats might sound weird to you depending on the part of the world you’re reading from but some people actually see this as fun.
In Japan there are hundreds of cat cafes scattered around the country but there is only one black-cats-only café in the world and it is located in the Japanese castle town of Himeji.
Nekobiyaka is where you can enjoy a refreshing drink in the company of about a dozen black felines.
This is the only cat cafe dedicated exclusively to black cats. Nekobiyaka opened in 2013 and has since become somewhat of a tourist attraction in Himeji.
The owner, Ms. Yagi, came up with idea of a black cat café as a way of increasing the felines’ chances of finding a forever home. As in most places around the world, the rate of adoption for black cats in Japan is significantly lower than for all other colors, and many of them end up euthanized. At Nekobiyaka, visitors get to interact with black felines and discover that the stigma and superstition surrounding them is simply ridiculous.
By April 2020, 321 black cats had “graduated” from Nekobiyaka, and every time one of them got adopted, Ms. Yagi brought another from the shelter to take its place. There are always at least 10 cats in the café, each wearing a differently-colored collar around its neck, to help visitors tell them apart. There is even a cat menu that lists all the different cats and their collar colors.
Disinfecting your hands has become the norm because of Covid-19, but at Nekobiyaka it’s always been mandatory, reports Oddity Central.
Visitors must also take off their shoes before entering the café and interacting with the black cats. The admission price is about 1,000 yen ($9.5) for the first hour, and 500 yen ($4.25) for every 30 minutes after that. Apart from the pleasant company, guests can enjoy a selection of drinks, as well as a variety of manga and magazine, most of them cat-themed.
Just like most other businesses in the world, Nekobiyaka was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, as the number of visitors dropped dramatically. Things got so bad that Ms. Yagi considered closing the café, but that meant abandoning the black cats she had fought so hard for. In desperation, she appealed for help online, and was overwhelmed by the positive response.
The crowd funding assistance was successful as Nekobiyaka received over 1.2 million yen ($11,000) in donations by the end of September, and donations are still ongoing.
Visiting the world’s only black café may not be the easiest thing in the world right now, but it’s good to know that thanks to Ms. Yagi’s dedication and the generosity of cat lovers around Japan Nekobiyaka will most likely still be around when the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea at all if you take a trip to Nekobiyaka whenever you’re in Japan.