Japan is well-known for being the land of kawaii, be it in the sugary-punk style that Harajuku is famous for or iconic Japanese characters such as Rilakkuma and Hello Kitty. Animal cafes take it a step further by allowing customers to interact with the living embodiment of kawaii – fluffy creatures who crave your attention.
While cat cafes are the most famous offering from the realm of animal cafes, what with it being exported overseas, Japan is also home to owl cafes, hedgehog cafes, bird cafes and the subject of today’s aticle: rabbit cafes. Mimi Usagi Cafe, located in Ikebukuro, will be the subject of this introduction to rabbit cafes.
Our reporter admittedly stumbled upon Mimi Usagi Cafe on accident. She was on her way back to Ikebukuro Station (Sunshine Street Exit, Exit 35) when she came across a building with a sign in front of it, displaying the businesses that were present within it. For those who need visual cues, after you enter Sunshine City and managed to brave the crowd, look for Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro. The building is on the opposite side of the road of Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro. When she saw the sign for Mimi on 8F, she decided to let her sense of adventure overcome her. Take the elevator to the 8th floor.
Upon arriving, you will see a blue door that has cut-out photographs of rabbits pasted all over it and a sign that says “Please knock” in English. The photograph below was what it looked like when this reporter went there on 23 June. Right beside the door is another wall decorated with cuteness as the staff used it to display their over 20 different rabbits through cut-outs of each one of them.
After knocking on the door, a friendly staff member will come out and bring out two rules and regulations sheets. For those without Japanese knowledge, do not fret. They offer the rules and regulations in English too! After that, the staff will tell you to wait a moment as they go back into the cafe to prepare your visit. Do remember to read through the rules and regulations carefully and when you are done, perhaps you can familiarise yourself with the rabbits by looking at the cut-out pictures on the walls!
The staff member will then invite you back into the cafe and you will be asked to make payment. For the rates, it starts at 800 yen for 30 minutes. The hourly rate is 1,200 yen for weekdays and 1,300 yen for weekends. All rates include a complimentary cup of rabbit food. The hourly rate also includes an artisan drink ranging from herbal teas to coffee. After paying for your time, you will be instructed to remove your shoes and trade them in for temporary Crocs. You will also be given a number card which needs to be put into an apron pocket. Photography and videography are allowed within the premises so do feel free to snap photographs of the adorable rabbits! Do refrain from using flash photography though.
You will then be asked to wash your hands at the sink. The fun is just about to begin! The staff will then hand you a skirt and apron that you must wear over your clothes to keep them clean. Do be warned that if you are wearing long pants, some rabbit fur can cling onto the fabric. Do be sure to use the two rollers that are available at the desk after your session is over to get the little remnants of fur out!
After sanitizing your hands, you will then be led into one of the three different playzones. When this reporter realised that most of the rabbits were roaming free and hopping or lounging around, she had a huge grin on her face. After being given your complimentary cup of rabbit food, sit down and watch the magic happen. The staff advised this reporter to hold her cup high up in the air and after a brief moment of not paying attention to where her cup was, she could see why. The rabbits would clamour towards the cup to sink in to the little pellets! At one point of time, this reporter had about four rabbits on her lap…and many more down at her feet!
TIP: To maximise your experience at Mimi, try to leave some pellets behind in your cup so that you will have some pellets to spare when you enter the other zones!
After the rabbits were done with their treats, they continued to jump around, playing with each other or nestling on this reporter’s lap. Customers can feel free to pet the rabbits too but be sure not to forcefully carry them as those are against the regulations of the cafe. If you run out of rabbit food, the friendly staff will coax the rabbits into coming towards you by throwing pellets around you.
As for the drinks, if you have purchased the 60 minute slot, you will be given a menu that is lovingly handwritten and decorated with cute bunny motifs! The variety of drinks provided is huge and it ranges from basic fruit juices to herbal tea. This reporter during her two 60 minute visits had the hot mint and iced green tea. The menu also has English titles so do not worry if you cannot read kanji or hiragana (although more detailed descriptions of the drinks are provided in Japanese.)
Staff-wise, they are extremely friendly and are always on the alert to clean up rabbit droppings and pee and to help you attract the attention of the rabbits. When this reporter came alone, they even offered to help her take photographs using her own handphone! Not only that, they were willing to strike conversations with the customers and introduce the bunnies that you are playing with. Sometimes, they will even tell you interesting facts about bunnies! Do you know that rabbits can sleep with their eyes open? One way to tell if they were asleep is to see whether their noses are twitching or not. While this reporter conversed with the staff in Japanese, the staff also tried their best to speak English to foreign visitors who were present at the cafe with this author so do not worry too much about the language barrier. The care and love that they have for the bunnies from the way they hold them was very evident during the reporter’s three visits to the cafe. As for the bunnies, this reporter personally loved Wata-kun, (a very, very fluffy white bunny!) Mu-chan (a black bunny) and Sasuke-kun (a dark gray bunny) best.
In conclusion, if you happen to be at Ikebukuro’s Sunshine Street or staying at Toshima-ku or Nerima, do give Mimi Usagi Cafe a try! You will be charmed by the friendly rabbits and if you happen to be staying in Tokyo for a prolonged period of time, you might find yourself making return visits like this reporter to bond with all the rabbits.
All photographs were taken by the reporter
DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid review. The opinions and views in this article are derived from the author’s personal trips and experiences at the cafe alone.