Article by: Sandra Scholes
All images supplied courtesy of Jonelle Patrick
In Fallen Angel, the second of Jonelle Patrick's Only In Tokyo Mystery series, cafes play a small part in her story, and the investigation of a young woman found dead outside her apartment.
There are plenty of themed cafes in Japan and some of the most popular are for cat and dog lovers who aren't allowed pets in their apartments or are too busy with work to be able to own and look after one. In the novel, Detective Nakamura visits the Calico Café, a cat café where people could pay ¥900 per hour to feed a range of cats classed as "on duty" as if they are at work helping their human customers wind down in the middle or after work. Cafe's don't just have cats and dogs, there are several the world over that cater to those who like a wide range of animals; a hedgehog café in the Roppongi district (that can even be taken home as a pet), a raccoon café in Seoul, South Korea and the Little Zoo Café in Bangkok where skunks and meerkats are the ones to bring your blood-pressure down a few notches.
We find out in the story that Detective Nakamura is allergic to cats so he has a hard time trying to conduct his investigation without sneezing, but I could imagine how valuable theses establishments are to people who want to relax in such a busy and demanding place as Japan. The mere sight of a cosplay-wearing, cat-ears wearing assistant is enough to make anyone's worries fade away. Dog resorts are also popular as there are establishments where rich owners can take their prized pooches to The Dog Petite Resort (in Fallen Angel) where a dog can be took for swimming lessons, pet massage or an hour on a treadmill. Around the resort are dog merchandise on display as well as a brochure for how much each therapy costs.
As Japan is where it has taken off the biggest, East London has its own, Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in Bethnal Green opened in 2014 to a welcoming crowd that enjoyed the idea of going to a tea room filled with a variety of cats. This is an interesting twist on the standard café, and being an otaku myself I can understand why manga themed cafes and dog resorts would appeal to the public. Ask any pet owner around there are benefits to having a cat or dog (or raccoon) around - even doctors prescribe inform or older people to get a pet as they can lower their heart rate.
All I know is Detective Nakamura, Yumi and co. get closer to finding out who the killer is... and maybe I shall get to one of these cat cafes...