After I completed my, what seemed like, a thousand essays and exams, it was time for me to travel around Japan! But you probably don’t want to hear about me travelling to the classic tourist spots – ah, the red tori gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, so beautiful and amazing, except that my 99% of my photos there consist of groups of tourists. That being said, there is definitely nothing wrong with visiting the famous historical and cultural significant sightseeing spots of Japan, they all have their own unique atmosphere and touch! But today I’m going to be writing about something we can all get excited about: Animals!
I’m going to be introducing three different ways you can meet animals face-to-face in very unique ways!
Firstly, Mocha Cat Café in Harajuku!
I know I know, you’re probably thinking “Um… Gala we’ve heard of cat cafes. They’re everywhere in Japan!” and it’s true, they are becoming more and more mainstream. But each cat café is slightly different and each have a slightly higher standard of care for the cats. You may also know about different kinds of animal cafes, such as rabbit cafes, owl cafes, dog cafes, and even snake cafes! However, unfortunately there are many who breach animal rights or just have a very low standard of care for their animals, this is especially evident in rabbit cafes which often keep their rabbits in tiny cages despite rabbits being quite active animals who enjoy a good run around. That’s why when looking for a cat café, I was determined to find one which was ethical and had a nice environment for the customers to interact with the cats.
Which is where Mocha Cat Café comes in! There are actually multiple Mocha Cat Cafes but I went to one in Harajuku. Prices start from 200yen/hour and you can buy kitty treats for 500yen. You also are charged a drink fee. The café is very tourist friendly and the area is very clean. The cats are friendly and energetic, sometimes even running around chasing each other.
I know all you want to see are cute cat photos so here they are!
Secondly, let’s talk about deer!
At Nara, on the way to Todaiji, a famous temple, you are able to see an absolute sea of deer roaming happily and freely. You can buy a stack of senbei (crackers) to feed them and they will suddenly become your biggest fans, even getting a little aggressive trying to get your attention (I’d like to report that I was head-butted multiple times). Nara is very famous for the deer and the small city is very tourist friendly. It is so easy to get around and it is also very easy to ask for help from strangers whether it be for directions and just recommendations for travelling in the city!
Thirdly, Okunoshima, also known as Rabbit Island!
This island is close to Hiroshima but it is actually a little bit of a pain to get to (this is what those viral Facebook videos don’t tell you…). You can either take a ferry from Tadanoumi or Mihara, both of which are approximately 1-2 hours away from Hiroshima station. It is important to keep in mind the ferry timetable as they are very frequent.
From the viral videos on the internet, you may have an idea that it is just a bunny lover’s paradise with bunny swarm everywhere you look, but in fact it really depends on the time and weather. In the morning the rabbits are extra hungry so they are out hunting down any generous -looking human being they can shove their adorable faces at, but during the afternoon they’re all full and a little bit less desperate. It is also important to note although the bunnies are really beautiful, varying in colour and type, some of the bunnies seemed to have some health issues, such as eye infections and such. Nevertheless, they were all friendly and just plain adorable, and fortunately very energetic!
There are definitely more hands-on animal experiences you can have in Japan but those are my top 3! Being able to interact with and see animals freely and happily roaming around was one of the highlights of my travels around Japan!