A visit to Harry’s Hedgehog cafe in Harajuku is a unique experience that you can only get in Tokyo. This cosy and welcoming cafe houses over 40 miniature hedgehogs that are so small you can cradle one in your palms whilst sipping on a strawberry milk. There are several varieties of hedgehogs from very pale, albino and apricot coloured babies to darker and larger spiky spunks. The staff are very caring of these sweet animals as well as welcoming to all visitors, tourists and locals alike.
Harry’s Hedgehog cafe is located smack bang in the middle of trendy Harajuku, famous for its wacky Japanese schoolgirl fashions and home to many alternative artists. Alight at Harajuku station and take a turn past Takeshita-dori, the busiest street of Tokyo. Just past the Starbucks you will see the sign to Harry’s cafe where you should take the lift up to level six to this warm animal sanctuary.
Whilst it is recommended you make a reservation in advance, the reservation system is only available in Japanese so foreigners are advised to just turn up. I was immediately greeted by bubbly reception staff and I paid 1,400 yen to reserve a cafe table for 30 minutes. The price also included a small dish of hedgehog snacks and one free drink voucher.
Each cafe table seats between 2-4 people and has a glass tank of 4 baby hedgehogs. Upon entering, you must first disinfect your hands and the receptionist explained to us how to properly hold the hedgehog. As their eyes are weak, they rely mostly on their sense of smell so first you must allow them to familiarise themselves with your scent by putting your hand close to their nose. Then very slowly, you can scoop them into your palms so they form a little ball. If the hedgehog is relaxed with you, they may fall asleep in your palms. However the hedgehogs I played with were very active and tried to crawl up my arms! Optional gloves are provided to guests for handling the hedgehogs as their spikes can prick your hands. Whilst they were a little prickly, I found I did not need to use the gloves as their spikes were so small and their temperaments fairly tame.
The hedgehogs are bred in Japan and Thailand and there are 9 different varieties that are described according to the colour of their spikes and eyes. At our table we had four hedgehogs that were Cinnamon Pied, Salt and Pepper, Brown and Apricot.
A portion of hedgehog food consisted of 5 small worms. To feed a hedgehog, you must use a pair of tweezers to pick up the small worm and feed it into the hedgehogs mouth.
As a true city girl, it was my first time to observe or handle hedgehogs and it was a truly special experience. They say that everyone hedgehog has its own individual personality. I found that the Salt and Pepper hedgehog at my table was very aggressive, and he grunted and shook his body when I tried to pick him up. The Apricot hedgehog was very sleepy and when I cradled him in my hands he curled into a ball and stayed sleeping. And then Cinnamon Pied hedgehog was the tiniest but he was so curious, he kept disturbing the other hedgehogs in the tank and he scurried up my arms every time I lifted him up.
As part of the package, every customer receives a drinks voucher. The drinks voucher is redeemed at a vending machine, which dispenses most popular soft drinks as well as energy drinks, coffee, tea and different flavoured milks. Vending machine drinks are never great, but you don’t come here for the beverages!
The cafe is open between 12:00-22:00. After 22:00 the hedgehogs then go to sleep. For those who live in Japan, you can also purchase a hedgehog as they make the ideal pet for those who live in an apartment as they are vert easy to maintain. A hedgehog costs approximately 30,000 yen although the different varieties and sizes to choose from will affect the price.
A visit here is a great experience, made most pleasant by the friendly and informative staff. They are all incredibly knowledgeable about hedgehogs and speak good English, so they will answer any questions you have and do all they can to ensure you have a pleasant stay.
Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe
Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae1-13-21