So you want to hang out with a bunny?
Look no further than Candy Fruits Usagi no Yakata (Rabbit Hall) in Tokyo's bustling Akihabara, a district known as much for its maid cafes now as it was for stores selling electronic gadgetry in days gone by.
But forget the stereotype of Playboy Bunnies.
Here, the business is all about furry creatures with four legs and cute ears.
The store, which opened Feb. 10, is located on the ninth floor of a commercial building facing Chuo-dori, the main street.
Once inside, a visitor is confronted by rabbits frolicking.
"Welcome!" A woman in a pink outfit replete with rabbit ears says in greeting.
The staff members are known as "ko-usagi" (rabbit girls), but they are not the main attraction: Here, it's the rabbits.
There's a basic charge for admission. It is 1,600 yen ($19) for an hour. Coffee and tea are all-you-can-drink, but there's no food for people on the menu: only "rabbit snacks." These cost an additional 200 yen and consist of finely chopped carrots, apples and turnip leaves--in other words, rabbit food. Visitors are allowed to play with the rabbits.
"What kind of rabbit do you like?"
First, a staff member approaches cages with 20 or so rabbits.
"What do you recommend?" I ask.
A staff member pulls a Holland Lop, a breed with adorable droopy ears, from a cage. It was a small female, no more than 30 centimeters long.
"Do you want to hold it?"
I held it, but I felt nervous.
"Rabbits calm down when you hold them against your body. Try softly petting her head." The staff members who instruct visitors on how to handle the animals are knowledgeable. Some of them are former veterinary nurses.
Following instructions, I try to bond with the rabbit. When the rabbit relaxes, she starts to sniff me, an indication she liked me. I couldn't help but say, "Ah, how cute." "Isn't she? Rabbits grow attached to humans much more than you'd think," the staff member said as she deftly collected rabbit droppings that had fallen on the floor into a dustpan.
If you enjoy this sort of interaction, then an hour will fly by in a flash. You can even purchase a rabbit if one takes your fancy.
The business is jointly operated by a group that includes Chiyoda Ward-based Candy Fruits, a company that sells maid outfits. A spokesperson said, "We want to give people a new form of soothing comfort by developing a fondness for the rabbits."
According to Tadashi Suzuki, who runs Akihabara Information, a business that provides maps and arranges sightseeing tours of the district, "animal cafes" are still a novelty in Japan.
Suzuki said the rabbit cafe follows in the footsteps of Akihabara's cat cafes.
"These days if you open up a regular maid cafe here, you'll be lost in the crowd. We may see more new shops that really make themselves stand out from the rest."
Adorable bunnies living right in the middle of Akihabara. They may be the product of the wild ups and downs of doing business here.
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