For the busy young Japanese woman looking to unwind after a stressful day at work, no place offers the kind of relaxation for the mind and soul like one of Tokyo’s many cat cafés.

As the name suggests, cat cafés are cozy shops where customers can relax, read a book and enjoy a latte in the company of dozens of adorable cats. Often located in some of the busiest parts of the city, cat cafés have become extremely popular in recent years with working women in their 20s and 30s who live in apartments that forbid owning pets.

While most cat cafés are there for the purpose of the client, some people see opportunity to do some good for their furry employees and have turned their store into a kind of try-before-you-buy stray cat rescue home.

We recently visited one such cat café run in Egota, Tokyo called Ekoneko.

The shop is a snug little place run in partnership with a local vet. All of the cats are as clean, friendly and absolutely adorable as you would expect from a normal cat café.

The fee is also standard for a cat café at 1000 yen (US $12.50) per hour including all-you-can-drink beverages. Considering that a part of the money you’re spending goes to taking care of stray cats, you’d think they could get away with charging a little more.

In addition to a peaceful atmosphere for clients to relax, Ekoneko gives prospective cat owners the opportunity to spend time with the animals before they choose to welcome one into their family.

Looking at the “employee” photo album we noticed quite a few photos of cats that had already been adopted and were no longer in the store.

Obviously, customers aren’t allowed to just pick up a cat and bring it to the register for check-out: foster parents must prove they can take care of their cat and are interviewed before they can take one home.

Be sure to check Ekoneko’s homepage (Japanese only) for more information on visiting the store or adopting. Even if you can’t read Japanese, there’s plenty of pictures of cute cats and who doesn’t like that?

Source: Ekoneko

Store Name: Ekoneko
Address: 5F Kindai No. 10 Bldg., 1-23-9 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo
Access: Take the musashi-ikebukuro line to Egota. Exit south and walk 1 min.
Hours: 12:00-22:00 (last order 21:00), no holiday
Phone: 03-6914-4818

[ Read in Japanese ]