Could this be the future of rail travel?
When cat cafes started showing up in Japan, no one was really sure how long they’d last. Sure, the idea of sipping on drinks and munching on light fare while surrounded by felines had a definite appeal, but some wondered if it might be nothing more than a passing fad.
Fast-forward to the present day and cat cafes are so popular that some specialize to an even greater degree within the category, leading to cat cafes that boast luxurious interior design, alcoholic beverages, or nothing but black cats. One of the best subgenres of cat cafes are those that seek to match rescue cats with new homes, and now Gifu-based rescue cat cafe Sanctuary is going one step further in unique ideas by creating Japan’s first cat cafe train.
The project is a joint venture with Yoro Railway, which operates in Gifu and Mie Prefectures. The Cat Cafe train will run between Gifu’s Ogaki and Ikeno Stations, and passengers will share the carriage with a number of rescue cats which were originally scheduled to be culled but are now under the protection of Sanctuary.
The Cat Cafe Train is a one-day affair, with its initial run starting at 10:30 a.m. on September 10 at Yoro Station, from where it will travel to Ikeno, arriving at 1 p.m.. For cat lovers travelling in the opposite direction, the second Cat Cafe Train will leave Ikeno at 11:20 in the morning and arrive at Ogaki at 2;50 in the afternoon.
Passengers will be given a bento boxed lunch, sweets, and a ticket good for unlimited travel on Yoro Railway for the day. In addition, a portion of the per-person participation fee of 3,000 yen (US$27) will be used to fund Sanctuary’s rescue cat operations.
Human capacity is limited to 40 passengers for each Cat Cafe Train. Yoro Railway began taking reservations on August 7, announcing that seats could be booked until either September 4 or until all available reservations were filled, whichever came first.
Given Japan’s love of both cute animals and rail travel, it’s no surprise that it took less than a day for 80 people to book their seats, and Yoro Railway sent out a second announcement on August 7 that reservations were now closed. Given the tremendously quick response, however, we wouldn’t be surprised if the company is already planning another Cat Cafe Train for some future date.