JapanWhat On Earth Is This Animal, And Where In Japan Can I Play With One?

3825 min

Japan is already famous for its cat cafés. Now, you can play with not only felines, but the world’s largest rodent! What is the world’s largest rodent, though?

It’s the capybara. The capybara comes from South America. It’s very cute, a social animal, and enjoys being petted. However, it’s an uncommon pet because it often requires a license (although, in the US, in Texas and Pennsylvania, none is necessary), it needs other capybaras to be happy, and it does best in a semiaquatic environment. It may be an uncommon pet, but a café in Kichijōji, Musashino-shi, Tokyo, which is called Capy Neko Cafe (カピねこカフェ) has one that customers can play with! It’s Japan’s first cat capybara café. Yes, there are cats there, too. They’re rescue cats, and the café hopes they’ll find “forever homes” if one of them bonds with a customer. In order to prevent the cats from getting stressed, there’s an area they can retreat to and rest if they feel like it. However, we have to wonder, after playing with the adorable capybara, will the cats still have their charm?

Tokyo is the home to many types of cat cafés, but this is the first one with a capybara. Some of the pre-existing cat cafés include one with Edo Period interior decorations, a manga café with cats, and one that’s decorated like an onsen (温泉, Japanese bathhouse).

The star of the show is a capybara named “Tawashi.” “Tawashi” means “scrubbing brush;” this is a reference to the capybara’s fur color, which is the same color as a Japanese scrubbing brush.

Although many outside Japan don’t even know what a capybara is, in Japan, they’re very famous. This is partially due to an anime in 2003, oh-so-creatively titled “Kapibara-san.” Now, in Tochigi Prefecture (a couple prefectures north from Tokyo) there’s even an onsen in which capybaras bathe, humans bathe, and the humans can watch the capybaras as they bathe. It’s called “Nasu Animal Kingdom.” Aside from the hot springs, this café, and the occasional pet (with or without a license), capybaras are most common in zoos, outside of South America, anyway.

Are you interested in going to Capy Neko Cafe? If so, be prepared to spend some money! The price is ¥2,200 per hour, with ¥1,100 for every half-hour extension. That’s the rate for adults (it may differ for children). The hours are noon to 6:00 PM, and is closed on Wednesdays. It’s recommended that you reserve online, first. Here’s the address:

Tōkyō-to, Musashino-shi, Kichijōji Minami-chō 1-5-10 PLATANO 2F

(in Japanese, because maybe you can read it, or maybe your taxi driver will find it more helpful: 東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺南町1-5-10 PLATANO 2階)

Capy Neko Cafe Website

↑The website: Cute pictures, but the English could use a little bit of work…