For many people, the word “hedgehog” may conjure up images of a speeding blue blur that stars in the second best selling video game series of all time, but the reality is more prickly. Capitalizing on their recent popularity, as well as the wild success of various other animal cafes, Roppongi hedgehog cafe, Harry gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy some cuteness therapy by getting up close and personal with the little spiky balls of fun.
Perhaps in part due to the runaway success of SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog video game franchise, the popularity of keeping hedgehogs as pets has taken off since their domestication began in the 1980’s. Jill Warnick, a breeder in the United States told the CS Monitor that demand has grown by a hundredfold in the last twenty years, and it’s not hard to see why. Their petite size and adorable faces are easy to love, and their amusing behavior keeps owners entertained for hours. Many people report cases of “tubing”, where the animals intentionally get their heads stuck in cardboard tubes. The behavior is so instinctive, that McDonald’s was even forced to redesign its McFlurry cups to prevent wild hedgehogs from injuring themselves while playing with trash.
For those who want to get in some first-hand play time without the burden of ownership, Tokyo’s Harry cafe provides a rare opportunity. A pun on the Japanese word for hedgehog ‘harinezumi’ (needle mouse), Harry offers half an hour of rodent companionship for around a thousand yen, depending on when you visit. All the coffee you can drink is included, and you’re welcome to bring your own (nonalcoholic) beverages, but you’ll almost certainly be too busy to drink. There are dozens of hedgehogs in glass habitats lining the room. Just point out your desired hedgehog to one of the cafe’s employees, and they’ll bring it over to you in a box to play with.
As the name suggests, they’re covered in spikes, so pick them up carefully from below. Excess contact with the needles will make them flinch, so just hold them gently and let them walk up and down your arms. Naturally, as nocturnal creatures, they’re likely to get tired, at which point they may even take a nap in your hand! This is your chance to gently pet their bellies and the soft fur where the spikes end. For a small additional fee, you can also feed them worm treats, as hedgehogs are insectivores.
Harry is a one-minute walk from Roppongi Station, and also operates a rabbit cafe on the second floor called Ms. Bunny, so it’s a one-stop shop to relax and make some furry friends.
If you really fall for one of the residents, the hedgehogs are for sale as well. They’re a pretty steep investment at $300 to $400USD a pop, but who can put a price on love? Plus, if you do decide to purchase one, your visit is free! So stop by for a relaxing afternoon of playing with unusual animals, and who knows, you might even make a friend for life.