If you thought cat cafes, dog cafes, bunny cafes, reptile cafes and owl cafes were all the animal-themed cafes Japan could handle, you were wrong. A hedgehog cafe just came on the scene, and now all is right with the world.
The new prickly cafe just popped up in the Roppongi district of Tokyo, and everyone who’s anyone is flocking there (including me, just as soon as I can raise enough money for a plane ticket). It’s called Harry (named for the similar sounding Japanese word for “needle”) and features 30 hedgehogs in a variety of breeds and ages. Customers are more than welcome to pick them up, take selfies with them and cuddle them (as much as one can cuddle such spiny creatures). For a mere 1,000 yen (about nine U.S. dollars) on weekdays, you can play with the little guys for up to an hour. Of course, that price goes up to 1,300 yen (about $12) on weekends, but it’s still relatively reasonable, and in my opinion, more than worth it.
If you happen to fall in love with one (or two) of these funny-looking creatures, they are for sale and vary in price depending on their breed. For example, your more standard salt and pepper hedgehog will run you 30,000 to 33,000 yen ($277.30 to $305.03). That does seem a little pricey to me, considering you can find hedgehogs in the states for $100, but perhaps these are more artisanal?
The cafe has been open since February, and it’s already a premiere attraction in Tokyo, especially among families with younger children. One little girl visiting from England said in an interview, “All of these hedgehogs are friendly, even though some of them might spike you.” That’s definitely the message the creators of the cafe are trying to convey. “We wanted to show people the charm of hedgehogs, which have the impression of being hard to handle. We wanted to get rid of that image by letting people touch them,” staff member Mizuki Murata told the Guardian. Even though hedgehogs look a little menacing with all their spikes, they’re actually very sweet and welcome a gentle touch.
Frankly, I’m surprised it took Japan this long to set up a hedgehog-specific cafe. Considering how much they show up in Japanese anime, you’d think they’d be first on the list of ideas. Well, the important thing is they’re here now for all Tokyo residents and visitors alike to enjoy. Now does anyone out there know a good travel agent who can score me a cheap seat to Japan?