Cat cafe! This most Asian of hangouts is popular throughout the continent, and can be found in places you wouldn’t expect. Okinawa is no exception in its fondness for felines; cats are popular pets for people who want a furry companion but lack space for a dog. And for those not lucky enough to share their life with a kitty already, Neko Maru is here to offer a fun and unique experience. Let’s visit a cat cafe!
I have to admit, I found this place by complete luck. I spotted it on a drive out, clocking the colourful kitties that dance on the walls and windows, and the cheery banners fluttering outside with cats and the word “neko” written in kana. A quick u-turn, and I was parked up outside. A glance in the window told me my suspicions were right. I adore cats, so this was a great find!
You enter into a small foyer, there’s a shoe cubby to your right, and a basket with slippers in to your left. There’s also a glass door that allows entry into the cafe itself. Ditch your shoes, don some slippers, make sure the door you entered through is closed, and step into kitty heaven!
You’ll be greeted by staff upon entry, who have English information cards to help you out. You must pay to use the cafe, plus for any food or drinks. Half an hour is around ¥756, and an hour is around ¥1080, with the latter option including one drink. Payment is cash only. Once you’ve selected your option (if you want food, you have to book a minimum of an hour), enjoy!
Neko Maru has 19 resident kitties, all rescues. They vary in age, breed, and gender, each with their own personality and quirks. The main part of the cafe is fairly open, littered with chairs, boxes, and lots of cat-friendly toys. You are encouraged to pick up toys and try to interact with the cats, but don’t be overbearing. If a cat wants to be left alone, move on. Cats are aloof, and this is their home, so respect their wishes!
There’s a slightly raised area with wooden floors (take your slippers off before entering this area); it has a great outlook, a smattering of low Japanese-style seating, more kitty toys, and a bookshelf containing manga, so you can snuggle a cat and catch up on your favourite anime! Purrrrfect! You’ll also find menus in this area. Sadly, unless you can read kana, you might struggle to see what they have! However, I can tell you that they offer a range of hot and cold drinks (including coffee, tea, and fruit juices), and some of the food items are cat themed! There isn’t a huge range, but there’s photos of the food, so you can get an idea of what to choose. I very much enjoyed the pancakes; they came with strawberries, cream, and were cat-shaped! Adorable!
Another thing I liked was the gift area. In the back, opposite the entrance, you’ll see a row of shelves packed with everything cat-themed; socks, gifts, jewellery, cat collars, toys, and more. So if you have a furry friend at home, you can take a present for them too!
I’d like to of course give more attention to the main attraction. The cats. I did briefly mention 19 residents; you can learn more about them in the raised area as each table has a card on listing each kitty with their name, breed, and a fetching mugshot. One of the friendliest is Maru, a cuddly grey kitty with pretty eyes and a warm heart. He will likely come over to say hi as soon as you sit down. There’s also a munchkin kitty, a Russian blue (who will try to sneak into your handbag, so watch out!), a rag doll, a black and white kitty (he’s the manager, you can often see him prowling around on the upper walkways surveying his kingdom), as well as many other cats, most of which will probably be sleeping!
Russian blue cat
Lastly, before you leave, check out the capsule machine by the door. For ¥400 you can purchase a cat cafe gift! It’s a keychain with one of the resident cats’ faces on! I got Maru!
Neko Maru also has locations in Ueno and Sumida, Tokyo, so if you can’t get to their Okinawa location, there may be one close to you! Check out their website, for more information (Japanese only).
Okinawa location: 1-7-5 Isa, Ginowan City, Okinawa 901-2221
Ueno location: 7-2-2 Ueno, Taito, Tokyo 110-0005
Sumida location: 2-5-11 Kinshi, Sumida, Tokyo 130-0013
Have a paws-itively meow-gical visit!