TOKYO (Reuters) - As if cat, rabbit, owl, hawk and even snake-themed cafes aren't enough in a country which loves all things cute, Tokyo residents wanting to spend time with animals have a new choice - a hedgehog-themed cafe.
Customers at "Harry" - a play on the animal's name in Japanese - have been lining up to spend time at a bright room in the Roppongi entertainment district where 20 to 30 hedgehogs of different breeds scrabble and snooze in glass tanks.
A fee of 1,000 yen ($9) on weekdays and 1,300 yen on holidays brings an hour of playing with and cuddling - carefully - the prickly mammals, which have long been sold in Japan as pets despite not being native to the island nation.
"All of these hedgehogs are friendly even though some of them might spike you," said Anna Cheung, an 11-year-old visitor from Britain.
Staffer Mizuki Murata, who also works in a rabbit cafe in the same building, said the shop had been popular since its February opening, with customers often having to queue.
"We wanted to show people the charm of hedgehogs, which give the impression of being hard to handle. We wanted to get rid of that image by letting people touch them," Murata said.
"The cutest thing about hedgehogs is getting them to finally open up and show you their face."
($1 = 110.2900 yen)
Reporting by Chris Meyers; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Nick Macfie