Hedgehog Cafe

Hedgehog Cafe

Harinezumi means ‘hedgehog’ in Japanese (actually it means needle mouse, which is fairly descriptive…) and Harry seems to be the oversized hedgehog who rules the roost in the Harajuku hedgehog café.

Visitors queue up to spend half an hour admiring, feeding, and – if they let you – playing with the couple of dozen hedgehogs who live here.

You might think that hedgehogs are not the best creatures to pick up and cuddle, but leather gloves are provided to protect your hands. And it is just as well, because you soon discover that the prickles are the least of your worries when it comes to playing with these shy creatures – however gentle you might be, a grumpy hedgehog has no qualms when it comes to pooing in all directions.

Half an hour (at the fairly steep price of ¥1,400) is actually long enough, because the best you can hope from your hedgehogs is that rather than struggling to escape they will curl up and go to sleep, possibly in your hands.

But the café is clean and bright, the price includes a drink you can get for yourself from the line of vending machines at the back, and the walls are covered with amusing posters explaining all about hedgehogs and how to hold them. Friendly staff will even take your photo, as it is very hard to manage a creditable selfie with 2 hedgehogs in your hand.

Most of the animals live in glass sided tanks set into the counters, so you can see them amble round at their eye level rather than just peering in from above. Strict rules mean you must disinfect your hands before holding them, and also keep your hands below the top of the tanks so there is no chance of accidentally dropping a hedgehog to the floor.

Small tubs of worms, and tweezers with which to handle them, mean you can feed your hedgehogs as well as simply pet them, and whilst I was there the café was full of happy customers. Whether the hedgehogs were happy as well is not something I can be sure of, as you can’t have the sort of personal interaction with them you might get with a cat or dog. But it was a quirky and interesting way of spending half an hour, and a welcome break from the freezing cold of February in Tokyo.


Frozen Popcorn

It’s a cast iron guarantee that you will find something completely ridiculous on Harajuku’s Takeshita dori, and this is my current top pick.

Frozen popcorn is possibly even more pointless than you might imagine. Even daughter #1 scoffed at my intention of trying it out…

The shop honestly looks like someone has taken over a defunct ice cream counter and wondered what to serve from the metal tubs left behind. They decided on popcorn, they chose some interesting flavours and additions, but in the end this is just cold popcorn and does not change either in taste or texture if you forget about it for several days after that first ‘so what?’ sampling.

I went for honey and raspberry flavour with m&ms. Other options ranged from cheese and peanut butter to custard and marshmallow. It cost an outrageous ¥583 for the smallest serving.

For my final verdict on this, I shall simply give you the name of this store – Good Grief.

Eyelash Jewels

eyelash 1 eyelash 2 eyelash 3

Here’s another S$2 treat from Daiso – something else you did not know you needed.

This is the sort of thing you see cute teenagers wearing in Harajuku on a Sunday, to complement their frilly dresses and lace. The sparkle of fake jewels on their eyelashes is just one more part of a mind-boggling costume extravaganza.

Having tried to put these on, I have new respect for the time it must take those girls to dress up the way they do. You need fiendishly good eyesight (or a friend with tweezers and a magnifying glass) to get these minute sparklers attached to the even tinier sticky dots provided, then transferred to your lashes.

I struggled for ages, getting jewels stuck everywhere but where I wanted them, and if I’d been wearing eye makeup it would certainly not have survived. When I did get one in place, however, I was surprised to note that whilst I had been expecting it to be a real distraction, I could neither see nor feel it. But I would not like to think how it might hurt if one fell into your eye…

With a spot of assistance and a lot of patience, this might be a nice final touch to a fancy dress costume. Otherwise, best left to the Takeshita dori Lolitas.