Cats have it made in Tokyo. People truly love them here– where else would you find a “Cat Cafe,” where patrons pay by the minute to enjoy a cup of tea while a cat sits next to them?
Even stray cats are generally well-regarded in Tokyo. Instead of being seen as a nuisance, strays are more like “community cats” that anyone can spend time with and care for.
We meet some of Tokyo’s “community cats” in Hibiya Park, mere steps away from Japan’s Imperial Palace.
Cat in a Tree
While sitting on a bench in the shade, I glance behind me and see a cat lazily napping in the nook of a tree’s roots.
Though a bit scruffy around the edges, there’s little to even indicate that this cat is a stray. It’s definitely not starving– in fact, it looks like it could stand to lose a couple pounds.
I inch toward the black and white cat to get a better look. I step on some dry leaves and the sound is deafening as it breaks the silence of the park.
The cat’s eyes snap open, and for a tense moment, it stares directly at me with brilliant emerald eyes. I’m certain the cat is going to bolt, but instead the cat simply closes its eyes and returns to its nap.
Evidently, I’m not interesting enough.
Eventually we move on. The cat however, continues to slumber in it’s cradle at the base of the tree.
Brother and Sister
As we walk on, we encounter a pair of cats just sitting beside the path.
Like the previous cat, these cats are both black and white, though one is predominantly black while the other is mostly white. Also like the previous cat, they are mostly uninterested in us.
The white one doesn’t even acknowledge our existence. We have no food for it, what’s the point?
The black cat is a bit more guarded. It first peeks out from behind the white cat before edging closer.
I call to the black cat, but it doesn’t seem to like that.
Perhaps it was my accent.
Around the Fountain
As the sun sets, we sit beside a large circular water fountain. Beyond the park’s borders, we know that Tokyo continues to move along as quickly as ever, but here in Hibiya Park it is calm and peaceful.
Another pair of cats approach. Once again, one cat is mostly black and the other is mostly white. I’m beginning to see a pattern here.
Of all the cats in Hibiya Park, these two are the most outgoing, as they actually come up to us. The white cat even mews quietly as it gets within earshot.
However, these cats are also the scruffiest we’ve seen in the park so far. As I bend down to get a closer look at the white cat I notice something rather strange.
It has no eyes.
A cat’s life in Tokyo may not be as carefree as it seems after all.
We’ve seen our fair share of stray cats in Tokyo, but Hibiya Park definitely has the highest concentration of strays so far. All the same, I think we’ve probably only scratched the surface of the cat population in this expansive city.
5 Days in Tokyo
- Otsuka — Tucked between Tokyo’s hot spots is a place where golden hour never ends.
- A Different View of Harajuku — We discover that serenity is surprisingly easy to find in Harajuku.
- Lost in Ebisu — A random stop in Tokyo turns out to be more than we bargained for.
- Old Town Akihabara — Pass under the bridge to a different side of Tokyo’s futuristic district.
- Ginza to Tsukiji — A search for fresh fish leads to a surprising discovery about Tokyo’s Ginza district.
- Lunch at Tsukiji Fish Market — This is where you go to get the freshest fish in Tokyo.
- The Solitary Soldier — Sunset at Japan’s Imperial Palace.
- Finding Peace in Hibiya Park — A small pocket of peace amidst Tokyo’s never-ending activity.
- Cats of Hibiya Park — Hanging out with some furry friends.
- Saturday in Ikebukuro — Ikebukuro. Weekend. It’s over.
- Okachimachi Crunchy — Walking down Tokyo’s multifaceted shopping boulevard.
- Hidden Yanaka — Frozen in time.