Recently, I had the grand sum of eight hours in Tokyo – and two things I had to achieve in that time. Buy a dress for my friend’s rabbit (yes that’s a thing) and cuddle a hedgehog at the new branch of Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe in Harajuku. Not surprisingly as you’re reading a post about it – meeting the spiky ones was mission accomplished, and omg, the cuteness!
Harry’s Harakuku is the second Harry’s Hedgehog cafe in Tokyo, the first is in Roppongi – my original plan was to go here as it actually takes bookings which lets you queue jump, but rabbit dresses can only be purchased from one shop in Harajuku and so off I headed to the mothership of all things cute (or should I say kawaii) in Japan.
What Happened When I Got There
Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe opens at noon and I arrived about 12.30 – the queue at this point was only about 10 people long and even though there were already plenty of hedgie fans having cuddles I probably only waited 10 minutes.
Because I was on my own I opted for the half an hour hedgehog visit. I also added some meal worms to feed my new friends in a blatant attempt to make them love me which meant the fee for my visit was Y1630 (about £11.50 or AUD$19). Note: you don’t pay the staff the money, instead you feed it into the machine on the counter. It took me a few minutes of smiling and waving my yen before I realised this was the plan. Once you’ve paid and sanitised your hands, you’ll be taken to your hedgehog. And at this point the staff will show you correct hedgehog handling procedure. Effectively you scoop them up with your cupped hands as if you were scooping water out of a bucket. Spiky, adorable water that snuffles.
Again, I got a bit lost in translation here. Most of the people before me in the queue had been taken to big buckety like hedgehog pens in the middle of the room. I was at a shelf like bar by the cash desk with two hedgehogs in a large glass tank in front of me – and so I thought, I was in some kind of waiting area and would soon be escorted to the middle when a place came free. It was only when the staff came to see why I wasn’t indulging in much spiky joy that I realised these were actually my hedgehogs to play with .
Cuddling The Hedgehogs
So, at last the bit you were waiting for – what it’s like to hold a hedgehog. Well, just repeatedly shriek squee in a high pitched voice of feverish excitement and you’ll get the picture. My two hedgies couldn’t have been more different in personality – Snoozy, as I called him, was super docile and once he’d realised that I was a soft touch basically curled up in my hand and went to sleep. At this point, I’m stuck – thrilled as I am that he feels secure enough in my presence to have a nap, once I’d taken 27 pictures of him, he’s actually getting quite heavy – but I don’t want to wake him up by putting him down! This went on for about five minutes before he did the hedgehog equivalent of turning over to find the cold bit of the pillow and I felt I could put him down and pick up Hedgie 2.
If Snoozy was made for a life of cuddles, Wriggly not so much – once he’d hoovered up my mealworm bribe, I attempted to scoop him up – unlike Snoozy who’d immediately settled into a ball, Wriggly was off attempting to climb up my arms and out of the tank. It was like trying to wrangle a particularly truculent toddler – with spikes! After about 3-4 minutes I gave up and went back to Snoozy!
Place-oddity Tip: While at the time of writing Harry’s Harajuku wasn’t offering reservations, if the queue is too long or you want to come back at a specific time, you can go in and make a reservation in person. From what I could gather from the girls behind me doing exactly that, reservations are only for an hour long cuddling session and so will cost Y2400.
I think I probably only spent about 20 minutes in the cafe. That was enough to get a billion cute pictures, store up some super cute memories and strike another one of my ‘must do’s’ off my bucket list. I think unless there’s more than two of you, the half an hour session is more than enough
Oh, and just to leave you with a final piece of useful (?) information – I first heard about the hedgehog cafe from the brilliant Only in Japan blog where blogmeister Jonelle pointed out that the Japanese word for hedgehog is heri-nuzumi – the direct translation for which is needle mouse! Which frankly is one of those facts that you can never forget once you hear it!
How to Find Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe in Harajuku?
Actually, it’s very simple to find. Not least because there is someone standing outside holding a gigantic picture of a hedgehog! Should they be on their teabreak though, it’s about a minute’s walk away from Harajuku station – if you come out of that station, you’ll see a branch of The Gap on the other side of the road, head toward it and Harry’s is just round the next corner on your left – if you reach Nike you’ve walked past it. The official address of Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe is Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae1-13-21 . It’s upstairs so there’s no obvious frontage but if you see a couple of restaurants in front of you and a lift to your left you’re in the right place. There’s also an obvious sign for a hair salon called Lalma Mit on the wall of the lift shaft.
When you get there, either go up in the lift to the top floor (if there’s a queue, they’ll send you back down the stairs to join it), or climb up the stairs until you hit the back of the queue.
For a map and all the other details on the cafe, check out the English section of their website. They are open seven days a week from 12-8.
Other Useful Information
What Else is Near Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe
Harry’s is steps from Takeshita Street which is the main thoroughfare in Harajuku. It’s good fun, but don’t miss out on wandering the backstreets in the area to find more cute clothes shops, fabulously dressed people and just general Tokyo-ness. I literally just wandered the streets for about two hours and still didn’t have time to get to everything i wanted to see Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe is also a short walk from the must-see Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park which is a brilliant place for people watching on a Sunday.
Tokyo metro system is extremely easy to use. Everything is in English and you work out how much your ride costs by looking at a map above the ticket machine. find your station and you’ll see a three figured number – that’s how much it costs to get there from where you are now (you can also buy a PASMO card that you fill with cash – handy as you can also use it in convenience stores). One thing that catches me out every time though as that it’s not like the London tube when it comes to buying tickets. If a station has more than one line connecting to it and they are run by different rail companies, you can only buy a ticket for your line in the specific area your line is found. I’ve spent way too many hours staring at maps trying to work out my fare and wondering why my end stop wasn’t on there – and then realised I wasn’t at the right set of ticket machines yet. Another top tip, stations are often very close to each other so, if your journey involves lots of convoluted changes, have a look at the other nearby lines and you might find a less obvious station offers a quicker journey. I didn’t get a SIM card on this trip, but I did use the free CityMaps2Go app – my only criticism is it really drains your batteries.
Where to Stay
I didn’t stay in Tokyo this time, but on my last trip I stayed at Shinjuku Citadines and definitely recommend it. It’s good value for money and the rooms are large by Tokyo standards.
So, have you been to an animal cafe anywhere in the world? Tell us about it…we might want to go too.
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