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You can now add hedgehogs to the list of cute animals to visit on your next trip to the Japanese capital.

From cats to owls and long-eared bunny rabbits, Tokyo has an extensive selection of animal-themed cafes where you can relax with more than just a simple cup of tea or coffee. The animal interaction on offer provides a healing sense of comfort, known in Japanese as iyasareru, to those in the city unable to have their own pets due to lease restrictions and cramped housing.

Now, a new group of animals has scuttled onto the Tokyo cafe scene to capture our hearts, and this time they come in the form of cute, prickly hedgehogs.

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Having opened just a couple of months ago, the new cafe is called “Harry”, which is a play on “harinezumi” (literally “needle mouse”), the Japanese word for hedgehog. Located on the second floor of a new building in Roppongi, Tokyo, the site also houses a rabbit cafe called “Ms. Bunny” on the third floor.

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The entrance to the hedgehog cafe can be found at the end of a small lane behind Roppongi Station, and is marked by a giant inflatable sign advertising the building’s bunny cafe.

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Outside, cute hedgehog decorations and ceramic figures greet customers with a number of adorable poses.

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Visitors to the cafe are required to fill out a form before entering, which lays out the general fees and rules—which must be strictly adhered to—for the visit. Each person is charged 1,000 yen (US$9.23) for every 30 minutes they spend at the cafe on weekdays (1,300 yen on weekends), with additional options for feeding and photo-taking with a camera charged at 500 yen each. Photos taken on cellphones and tablets are free.

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Once inside, you’ll find a small space decorated with warm wood tones and a large number of glass enclosures housing a variety of different hedgehogs.

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After disinfecting your hands, you can walk around and choose the hedgehog you’d like to handle. Each enclosure has a sign to indicate the sex of the animals inside, along with a number so staff can ensure each group of hedgehogs is given sufficient food and rest-time away from visitors, in rotation with other hedgehogs in the cafe.

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▼ Some of the hedgehogs can be seen eating…

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▼ Some are snuggled together, dozing with friends…

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▼ And then others, like this little one, can be seen running around, looking up as if asking to come out and play.

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Once you’ve found the hedgehog you’d like to lavish affection on, the staff will take the animal out of the enclosure for you (guests are not allowed to take the hedgehogs from the glass tanks) and gently transfer it to a basket or box, from which you can the lift it out and play.

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When handling the hedgehog, it’s recommended you scoop him or her out of the box with both hands on either side of its body. As hedgehogs are prey animals with poor eyesight, any nervous, jerky movements will scare them so it’s best to handle them with a gentle, yet confident and assertive touch.

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The hedgehog will likely sniff your hands as it adjusts to its new surroundings.

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And once it becomes more comfortable, the hedgehog may start exploring, tunnelling through your hands and fingers.

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▼ A steady hand helps to make the hedgehog feel secure.

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After a few minutes of playtime, our lovely little animal was so relaxed she decided to curl up into a ball and doze off in our hands.

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The next hedgehog we chose to interact with had an entirely different personality to the first, being less playful and far more interested in eating the mealworms we offered it.

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At the end of our visit, we realised we’d totally forgotten to help ourselves to the self-serve drinks, located in a small corner of the cafe. Looking around, we noticed that none of the other customers were drinking either, as the hedgehogs had truly captured everyone’s attention.

▼ All the adorable little animals are available for sale, with prices starting at 30,000 yen (US$275) for the Salt and Pepper and Albino types, and going up to 70,000 yen for the Brown Pied and Cinnamon Pied varieties.

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The store also stocks a range of pet supplies for hedgehog owners, along with a small collection of reptiles which are available for sale by the entrance.

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Due to the immense popularity of the hedgehog cafe since its opening, customers are strongly advised to make a booking via the cafe’s official website to avoid long waits at the door. If you’re unable to secure a booking online, however, a number of walk-in spaces are made available for each time slot throughout the day.

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Cafe Information
Harry Hedgehog Cafe and Pet Store/ハリネズミ専門店
Address: Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-7-2, IWAHORI Building 2F
東京都港区六本木 6-7-2  IWAHORIビル2F
Hours: 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Photos & video © RocketNews24

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