Tokyo Diaries – Cat Café Nekorobi

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The nekokissa really is one of Japan’s most intriguing and charming innovations.

This Saturday I visited a couple of Tokyo institutions in Ikebukuro – Jiro Ramen and Nekorobi.  Jiro Ramen is hard to explain until you’ve tried it – many locals are fond of saying, “It’s not ramen, it’s Jiro.”  I can’t say I enjoy Jiro, precisely, but for some reason I’m oddly fascinated by it. Even if I do feel as if I need to sit under a waterfall for a few hours after eating it to purify myself.

As for Nekorobi, it’s one of the earliest and best-loved Tokyo cat cafes.  Alas I find these places too expensive to go to regularly, but Nekorobi is quite reasonable for one so popular, and it has the additional merit of offering free soft drinks, coffee and tea with the price of admission.  The star of the show for me here are a couple of Norwegian Forest Cats (which seem to be quite popular at nekokissa – perhaps they have a mellow temperament in addition to their regal appearance) although the white cat in the video put on a rather impressive display of acrobatics.

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  1. k

    Nekokissa are the closest thing to my idea of heaven, except for not being free and not having dogs. :D;; I envy you so much right now.

  2. Free they definitely are not…

    If you found a way to combine the nekokissa and the onsen, you'd be getting pretty close to perfect for me.

  3. i

    And then make the onsen out of beer. Or whiskey.

  4. e

    You do realize after your waterfall bit I'm wondering what have you been eating at Jiro's exactly to elicit such extreme thought, do you?

    I didn't squeal at the cats. Barely. But my fingers still got awfully twitchy. F-f-f-furlicious *ç*. I like the Norwegians I like the grey-silver-ish napping one I like the brunette. The white one reminds me of my beloved Ciccio II and Cicccio III ( aka my grandma's cats and my childhood-through-adolescence summer playmates delight ) and this in itself is dangerously close to moving me to tears, hug the screen or do both things.
    Thanks for sharing :,)

  5. Google Jiro – it's quite the local legend. It's hard to describe it, but pictures help. If you imagine taking an entire pig, boiling it down to one bowl full of liquid and adding a pound each of stewed fatty meat, cabbage and sprouts and topping it with a few tablespoons of raw garlic you'd start to get the idea.

  6. e

    Oh. My. Goodness. I'd actually try that. And I happen to love raw garlic. *after googling* KOI!

  7. G

    "taking an entire pig, boiling it down to one bowl full of liquid"……….I'm not sure if I would be able to stomach this…>>

  8. e

    @Glass: it sounds (and looks) so… primal and visceral of an experience though :D.
    If I'd ever get the chance my plan would be: skip breakfast – and possibly dinner the evening before… or at least keep it a light meal – , then once at Jiro unleash the most carnivorous side of your inner cave(wo?)man and ravage/ravish that bowl with all your ardour X,D***. Keep your digestive pill of choice at hand just to be sure. And green tea. And strong peppermints ('cause raw garlic as much as I adore it is a socially-impairing beast).

    ***WARNING: DIGRESSION —- my inner human animal, wake up and smell the pork! Visualize the holy pork, behold the pork, respect the pork, hold the pork, bite into the blessed mouthfuls. Feel the wild beast in your belly stirring within with every wave of steamy flavour teasing your nostrils, the juices flowing in your mouth in anticipation of that mountain of meat! *cue pork ramen bowl surrounded by a numinous halo*
    A-hem. I shouldn't really indulge in food fantasies when I'm hungry. Now this is making me crave steak… a tried and true fiorentina T-bone steak plus thick black cabbage soup ('ribollita') aaah such good memories <3 :Q___

  9. G

    I think raw garlic would be one of the easier things to swallow at this point. No joke, I think it actually goes well with certain types of oily food.

    And damn….you are making me hungry too with your food fantasies and I don't even like pork all that much. I'm picturing roasted suckling pig for some reason…………………..

    P.S that would be an inner cave woman xD
    P.S.S Right, cats…that's the main topic of discussion here. THEY ARE CUTORABLE~! *I'm a dog person*

  10. "Visceral and primal" is a good description. You see very few women at any Jiro – it really seems to be a kind of caveman thing. And yes, I think the raw garlic is the easiest part to digest.

    For the record, Jiro experts suggest eating nothing on the day of Jiro except an apple or pear, and then following the Jiro with a yogurt.

  11. Z

    The neighborhood cats keep trying to attack my poor dog. Viscous little bastards!

  12. R

    I just watched a Yahoo clip on Ramen Jiro — holy cow, that's one giant bowl of ramen, ooops, Jiro…! I understand why you wanted to sit under a waterfall…lol.

    What did you order? I read on a blog about Ramen Jiro that there were no photos on the ticket machine…you must be able to read Japanese now :-).

    Oh, that white cat looks so royal. I had one years ago that looked pretty much like the one in your photos/video. He's kind, gentle and friendly…well, he had passed away already :-(.

  13. I always order the "sho" (small) at Jiro, though I do get extra pork. Very few order the large bowl there. It truly is the one bowl of ramen I've never finished, and I generally regret having eaten it afterwards.

    In most ramen places it isn't too hard to order via the machine (90% of them use one). Some have pics, and with Jiro (which doesn't) you basically have to know the kanji for niku (meat) and tamago (egg) to know what the extras are. The sizes are pretty self-explanatory.

  14. R

    Thanks Enzo…I learnt some Japanese from you now…teehee. Yes, when I saw the giant bowl of ramen in the YouTube (not Yahoo…my typo in my previous post) video, I was thinking, "wow, I could never finish it, but then you get the most bang for the"

  15. B

    The Norweigan Forest cats are beautiful, I can understand their popularity. Not a big fan of pure white cats but the rest of them are adorable.

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