As if cafes themed around cats, rabbits, owls, hawks and even snakes weren't enough in a country that loves all things cute, Tokyo residents wanting to spend time with animals have a new choice — a hedgehog-themed cafe.
Customers at Harry — a play on harinezumi, the Japanese word for hedgehog — have been lining up to spend time at a bright room in the Roppongi entertainment district where 20 to 30 hedgehogs of different breeds scrabble and snooze in glass tanks.
For ¥1,000 on weekdays and ¥1,300 on holidays customers can spend an hour playing with, and cuddling — carefully — the prickly mammals, which have long been sold in Japan as pets despite not being native to the country.
"All of these hedgehogs are friendly even though some of them might spike you," said Anna Cheung, an 11-year-old visitor from Britain.
Staffer Mizuki Murata, who also works at a rabbit cafe in the same building, said the shop had been popular since its February opening, with customers often having to line up.
"We wanted to show people the charm of hedgehogs, which give the impression of being hard to handle. We wanted to get rid of that image by letting people touch them," Murata said.
"The cutest thing about hedgehogs is getting them to finally open up and show you their face."