Over the past couple years, cat cafés have taken the US by storm – or at least by scattered showers. But back in Japan, not only have cat cafés been popular for quite some time, so have other animal-centric eateries including owl cafés, iguana cafés, rabbit cafés… I bet you could find a café with a cursing parrot if you look hard enough. (And you should definitely look hard enough.)
Now the latest phenomenon: In February, Tokyo got a hedgehog café that has become so popular people are literally lining up to spend $9 per hour on weekdays or $12 per hour on weekends to hang out with 20 to 30 of the little critters that Japan originally made famous by giving one the difficult task of stopping Doctor Robotnik from stealing the Chaos Emeralds.
As exciting as staring at hedgehogs in glass tanks probably sounds, there’s even better news. The café encourages patron to actually hold the hedgehogs too. “We wanted to show people the charm of hedgehogs, which give the impression of being hard to handle,” one employee told The Guardian. “We wanted to get rid of that image by letting people touch them.”
“All of these hedgehogs are friendly even though some of them might spike you,” an 11-year-old patron explained. That’s a hell of an endorsement. It’s like the tour guide at Jurassic Park saying, “All of these dinosaurs are friendly even though some of them might hunt you down and eat your flesh.”
Let the countdown to New York’s deadly hedgehog café begin.