At JaLaLa, you can pay to play with a kitty-cat.
This is Curl. He's from America, and looks just like Finnegan, the orange tabby our family abandoned when we moved to Japan. Or, I should say, turned over to the competent care of the boys' Nonna in St. Louis.
And this is Anne, the friskiest of the bunch when my 12-year-old niece and I were there last Sunday.
All the cats are pictured and profiled on the wall.
The place is tiny. Upon arrival, a friendly human staff member briefs you on how to properly wash and disinfect your hands before touching the felines, and runs through a list of rules printed (in English) on a single laminated page.
For one thing, you're not allowed to pick a cat up without asking first. ("If you want to hug, please tell us and we will help you.") They choose which cat to place in your lap. They do not guarantee, however, that the cat will remain there.
The rule sheet also instructs if a cat is sleeping, that you touch her softly and not wake her up. Oh, and you can't abuse the cats either. ("Please refrain from treating them as they don't like...")
These rules seemed reasonable to us.
It cost 800 yen (about $8) total for one adult and one child to spend 30 minutes in the place, tea included.
Small groups of adults stopped in while we were there. I had read that these places are popular with lonely people who yearn for a pet cat of their own but for one reason or another can't have one (most likely because the landlord forbids it). But the folks we saw seemed like regular old cat lovers, quietly sitting and chatting and enjoying their tea and the furry company.
I would totally go back there. I think Emma would too.