The prickly animals show their other side
A hedgehog cafe has opened in Tokyo, drawing in animal lovers keen to pet the spiky creatures. Residents have been lining up to spend time in the bright room with 20 to 30 hedgehogs of different breeds. For up to USD 12 per hour, people are allowed to play with the prickly mammals. They have long been sold and bred in Japan as pets, despite not being native to the country.
"We wanted to show people the charm of hedgehogs, which have the impression of being hard to handle. We wanted to get rid of that image by letting people touch them," Staff Member Mizuki Murata says.
"There have been queues outside the store since we first opened and we've had to keep people waiting at times. We're happy to have had a lot of reservations," she said.
The cafe's name, "Harry", is a play on the animal's name in Japanese, as "hari" means needle in Japanese. Several foreign customers have given their thumbs up to the idea.
"It's very rare to see a hedgehog. The only way for my children to see a hedgehog is to come to a place like this. That's why," customer Kimberly Russel says.
"All of these hedgehogs are friendly even though some of them might spike you," customer Anna Cheung says.
Animal cafes are not rare in Tokyo - there are already cat, rabbit, owl, hawk and even snake cafes in the city.