By Rick Ochoa
If you thought our recent trip to Nekojalala Cat Cafe was a display of Japanese culture at its strangest, you’ve underestimated this nation’s love of the novel and bizarre. At Sakuraoka Café, a small coffee shop located in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, employees have adopted two goats named Chocolat and Sakura (Japanese for “Cherry blossom tree”) for customers to pet.
Both goats were brought in one day in efforts to help attract costumers with the idea of making them feel closer to nature. A rather ironic goal seen from the goat’s perspective.
“Animal cafes where people could play with cats and dogs used to be very popular. But having an everyday animal doesn’t bring the ‘wow’ factor anymore,” explained Manager Rena Kawaguchi to The Guardian, “And then of course there’s just the novelty of keeping goats in the heart of Shibuya.”
But keeping farm animals at a café in Central Tokyo has been no easy task. Feeding, grooming and taking Sakura and Chocolat for their daily walk has become a full-time job for the staff at Sakuraoka Café so customers have been drafted in to help – and to pay for the privilege. Slots can now be booked to take the goats on a walk through the busy streets of Shibuya, freaking everyone out along the way, then returned to the cafe where more customers/paying employees await to meet the pair.
The animals are fed high-protein pills to prevent them from creating any foul-smelling droppings that might disturb people and keeping them from coming back. Though, judging by the ungodly stench created by high-protein dieters in most gyms, we’re unsure about the effectiveness of this approach.
With the success of Sakura and Chocolat, Kawaguchi has added an elephant café to the top of her wish list. With no mention of her staff supporting or protesting against her idea, one can only suspect she will soon need bigger shovels and a lot more of the animal protein pills.