I recently celebrated a birthday. According to Facebook, I’m 87 years old. In reality, I’m slightly younger than that. Despite my advancing age, my old bones only really wanted to drag themselves to one place. Here’s a hint:
As a dutiful spouse and cat co-parent, my husband didn’t even ask what I wanted to do for my birthday, he simply said, “The closest cat cafe closes at 8 o’clock. Should we plan on being there before dinner?” And he went back to translating the directions on how to find the cafe in the heart of Yokohama.
You see, I’ve recently moved to Yokohama, Japan, just outside Tokyo. And I don’t know about you, but one of the first things I think of when I think of Japan is CAT CAFES. Japan is the motherland of cat cafes.
There are dozens in Tokyo and at least three in my general vicinity in Yokohama. I feel dizzy and euphoric just thinking about it.
As a Catster writer, I know what I must do. Out of duty to cat, country, and journalistic professionalism, I MUST visit ALL THE CAT CAFES. It is my goal, it is my calling. I believe I’m up to the challenge.
With this in mind, my husband and I made our way to our first cat cafe, Cat Cafe Miysis. If Miysis is any indication of the cat cafes to come, I suspect my challenge, my labor of love, will be far more love than it is labor. It’s a hard life as a cat writer, no?
My husband and I arrived at Miysis about an hour and a half before closing. From what I understood from the staff (my Japanese is like that of a redneck baby, so most translations come from my husband), this is a great time to come because the cats are lively and we’d get to watch them eat dinner.
From the outside, five-year-old Cat Cafe Miysis looks unremarkable. It’s on the second floor of what looks to be a office-residential building smooshed into a narrow side street of the Isezakicho area. You’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there. And we did, many times. I admit I was a little dubious taking the tiny elevator, but entering Miysis was like going to your cool, arty friend’s loft — that’s filled with cats.
Stepping into the tiny, tranquil check-in area, we were welcomed by a sweet and smiley worker. We paid for our allotted time (about $13 US for an hour and a half, though you can pay more and stay longer) and ordered two hot teas that would be brought to us. The greeter briefly explained that we were to leave our shoes in a cubby area and wash our hands before petting any of the cats. She also handed us several laminated sheets in English (thank goodness) detailing how the cats are to be treated.
Basically, the cats run the show. No picking up the cats, no feeding the cats (unless given treats or food by the staff), no disturbing a sleeping cat, do not chase a cat who doesn’t want to hang out with you, and it’s your fault if the cat attacks you. Miysis will offer bandages or minor first-aid care, but major injuries are on you.
The top shelves of the cubby area were “artfully cluttered” with vintage-looking postcards of the resident cats, t-shirts, and various DIY-style cat knick-knacks. Upon entering the main cafe we were immediately, greeted by this cat, whose name I learned was Kyle.
Kyle was one of the most memorable cats on our visit. Not only was he sort of our unofficial tour guide, but for criminy’s sake, his name is KYLE. In a Japanese cat cafe filled with cats named Higekuma and Chori, it’s gotta be rough to be named KYLE. He was kind of an oddball, and we loved him.
We turned to wash our hands at the little sink just inside the door but were thwarted by this kitty lapping at the dripping faucet.
He really wasn’t interested in sharing. So, not to disturb the kitty, we waited.
Finally, our friend got bored of the faucet, and we were able to wash our hands and go into the cafe. I was struck by how bright and cheery it was. It has a huge collection of books, lots of comfy couches, and cat jungle gyms.
I especially liked the sleek “coffee counter” area.
Which was later covered in cats. The woman behind the counter laughed and said, “There’s no stopping them! It’s their house!”
It really is “their house” at Cat Cafe Miysis. From what I understood, all the cats are adopted or rescued, and I believe some are even available for adoption through an interview process and review. Many Miysis cats were street cats, some were surrendered to shelters. Miysis not only has its “front of house” cats but also cats that need some rehabilitation.
One such cat, I believe it was Gorori or “Goro-chan,” had dark, sunken eyes and was visually impaired. Despite his disability, Goro-chan was quite outgoing. Living and playing happily with his Miysis family, he receives medical care from the staff and its vets.
Here he is greedily getting a snack from my husband at feeding time. (The staff let us help feed the cats! Swoon!)
Of course I got in on that action.
Don’t worry, my pal Kyle was not to be ignored.
Goro-chan was not the “happy cat” exception either. The cats at Miysis were some of the happiest, friendliest cats I’ve ever met. Not to throw shade on other cat cafes I’ve visited (Lady Dinah’s in London was fantastic and full of similarly happy cats), but something about the atmosphere of Miysis seemed to make for remarkably upbeat, enthusiastic, confident kitties. Throughout our visit cats were roughhousing with each other, crawling into our laps — !!! — and politely asking us to pick up a “cat wand” and play with them.
Or not so politely, in the case of this kitty who, feeling ignored, took the toy into his own paws.
Frankly, everybody at Miysis seemed so gosh darn relaxed and happy to be there, I wouldn’t mind if they adopted me. Maybe the cats could improve my Japanese.
Cocoio thinks my Japanese is hopeless.
The Miysis staff is diligent. The close relationship between the workers and the cats was quite evident. For example, during my time there one staff member did nothing but sit in the middle of the floor with the cats and let them climb all over him. He kept the kitties amused, while at the same time kept an eye on any humans who might be bothering the cats. When someone got too vigorous with the petting of a cat, I noticed the cats would run to this staff member for comfort.
As our time at Miysis wound down, I made the rounds to say goodbye to all my new friends. After their meal many were disinterested.
Some still wanted to play.
And most just wanted to nap.
My husband and I left Cat Cafe Miysis feeling uplifted. If a place exists in Japan with such happy kitties, the nation seems very promising.
If you’re ever in Yokohama, and you’re feeling the pangs of cat withdrawal or just want to expand your kitty social circle, I highly recommend visiting Cat Cafe Miysis. It’s a delightful respite from the rush and crush of city life.
Thank you to all the cats and staff at Cat Cafe Miysis. You made our visit so fun and comfortable! For more information, visit Cat Cafe Miysis’ website at cat-miysis.com or follow it on Twitter @cat_miysis. The website is in Japanese, but if you use Google’s “translate this page” button, you will be able to understand basic, necessary information.
Read related stories on Catster:
- How I Moved With My Cat From Hawaii to Japan
- Cat Travel Tips
- What It’s Like to Travel the World with Your 3 Cats
- Preparations You Must Make Before Taking Your Cat Abroad
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