Last year, cat cafes were trendy. This year, rabbit cafes are attracting attention.
Japanese magazines and TV variety programs have been featuring stories on rabbit cafes in trendy areas such as Jiyugaoka and Shimokitazawa.
The unusually-named Ra.a.g.f (meaning "rabbit and grow fat") is one such cafe. It opened in Megami street near Jiyugaoka Station last October. The owner opened the first Ra.a.g.f cafe in Harajuku.
Cafe manager Maria Fuwa says there is a rabbit boom in Japan now. "Many people are buying rabbits as pets," she says, "but they do not know much about the habits of rabbits and so they end up getting rid of them."
Fuwa says that one of the goals of the rabbit cafe is to provide people with opportunities to learn how to feed them and see what they are like before buying one at a pet shop. People can also buy rabbits at Ra.a.g.f where the staff are happy to give customers a few tips on how to look after the rabbits.
The cafe operates on a time service. It costs 600 yen for 30 minutes, 1,000 yen for a hour, and 500 yen for each 30 minutes after that. There is only a drink menu, but customers can bring their own food.
According to Fuwa, customers have a good time with the rabbits, which have a soothing effect. "They enjoy taking pictures of the rabbits and talking kindly to them as if they were the rabbits' mothers," she says. Fuwa says most customers would like to have rabbits as pets but can't because of their living environment.
The customers are varied -- men and women, young and old, and foreigners as well. Ra.a.g.f in Jiyugaoka is especially lively on weekends when families come in, while the cafe in Harajuku is more popular with young couples during the week.
The rabbits are usually kept in cages but let out when customers come in. There are various kinds of rabbits, so the staff let them out based on their compatibility. The rabbits are fed rabbit food, grass and vegetables. The staff come in even on holidays to feed them.
Because drinks are served and customers bring food, sanitation is an important issue. Fuwa says the cafe is regularly cleaned with disinfectant. Children are recommended to use alcohol disinfection after playing with rabbits.
The cafe owns its own breeding center in Saitama Prefecture. Baby rabbits are sent to the cafes and sold there if customers want them.
“I think the rabbit trend will last for a while because rabbits live a long life like -- 8 to 10 years," says Fuwa. "They are loved as partners or as members of the family.”
Ra.a.g.f in Jiyugaoka Where: 2 minutes from Jiyugaoka station Open hours: 12:00 - 19:30 (weekdays), 11:00 - 20:00 (weekends) Regular holidays: Every Thursday and 3rd Friday of the month More information: http://raagf.com/shop/jiyugaoka/
Ra.a.g.f in Harajuku Where: 5 minutes from Meiji-jingumae station, 8 minutes from Harajuku station Open hours: 12:00 - 19:30 (weekdays), 11:00 - 20:00 (weekends) Regular holidays: Every Friday and 3rd Thursday of the month More information: http://raagf.com/shop/harajuku/© Japan Today