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Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

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Down the rabbit hole: A customer makes new friends during a visit to the Ra.a.g.f rabbit cafe Jan. 31 in Meguro Ward, Tokyo. KYODO

Tokyo's rabbit cafes hopping with customers

Kyodo

Tokyo is full of cafes catering to a wide assortment of tastes, but in recent years a new breed of coffee house has emerged for people who love to hang out with rabbits.

Ra.a.g.f, pronounced "raf," opened last fall in the fashionable Jiyugaoka area in Meguro Ward, and is usually packed at weekends with customers reveling in the company of the cafe's 20 to 30 rabbits.

"I came here during my break to relax," said a smiling woman in her late 20s as she fed fresh vegetables to some of the rabbits.

Customers who want to buy rabbits can purchase the animals from the cafe's breeding center — but the cafe's rabbit "staff" are not for sale.

Cafe manager Maria Fuwa cautioned that customers have to be able to provide suitable accommodations for the rabbits and also must promise never to abandon them.

In Fuwa's view, a rabbit is for life.

Another rabbit cafe, Usagi Cafe Ohisama (Rabbit Sun Cafe), was launched last year by a pet shop operator in the Shimokitazawa area in Setagaya Ward.

This coffee shop is also buzzing on weekends and most of the customers are women, said cafe manager Asami Yoshimura

The cafe has about 30 of the animals, but the big rabbit on campus is Naito-kun — who lives with Yoshimura.

Yet another rabbit cafe operating in the same area is Usagi no Ehon (Rabbit Picture Books).

Given the many live music houses and small theaters nearby, it has turned into a gathering spot for musicians and actors.

"I want our cafe to be a healing space for stressed-out people," said Etsuko Kawasaki, who has been running the cafe with her family for the past two years.

The cafe's seven rabbits may not be a match for the hordes cavorting in its two rival establishments — but it does display picture books and sell rabbit-themed merchandise.



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