Japanese hop to bunny cafe for relaxation

NAGOYA, Japan (Reuters Life!) - Stressed-out Japanese seeking to unwind are hopping to a restaurant that serves cuddly pet rabbits alongside, and not on, the menu.

The Usagi-to-Cafe in the central Japanese city of Nagoya features everything bunny: rabbit decor, rabbit-shaped toys and dishes molded to look like rabbits.

But it’s the live animals in the room next to the restaurant that keep the patrons coming.

“They are different from stuffed animals, as well as from dogs or cats. They feel as fluffy as cotton and I feel so relaxed when I am cuddling them,” said Hiromi Ono, a 25-year-old businesswoman as she held a rabbit.

Cafes that offer animals are quite common in Japan, where strict housing regulations often ban pets. But most of the cafes feature cats.

Unlike the more hygienic felines, the rabbits at Usagi-to-Cafe are set apart from diners, who pay a 900 yen (about $10) cover charge and then 100 yen a minute to cuddle one of the 18 staff.

“Bunnies here are taught to be amenable that you can pet and cuddle them as much as you want, and many customers like it,” said rabbit aficionado Naoki Kurata, who set up the cafe about a year ago.

The restaurant also has a “bring your own bunny” policy, helping pet rabbits socialize.

($1=92.63 Yen)

Reporting by Hyun Oh, Editing by Miral Fahmy