Vancouver Is Getting A Totoro-Inspired Cat Cafe

Published on March 8, 2019

If you’ve ever dreamed about the reality of a Ghibli-land reminiscent of Disneyland—well, continue dreaming. This cat cafe inspired by My Neighbour Totoro may scratch the itch on being able to visit the world of Ghibli in real life, though. The cafe is opening in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver. It will let Totoro fans cuddle with a friendly kitty—during business hours, of course. Catoro Cafe will open to the public soon, and will be one of the first themed cat cafe’s of its kind outside of Japan itself.

Why Cat Cafes?

Cat Cafe’s are a dime a dozen in Japanese cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. However, the idea originated in Taiwan (who we also have to thank for bubble tea). The cafe’s became popular in urban parts of Japan because so many people live in small apartments. These apartments often don’t allow pets or make owning a pet especially hard, so it became easier for people to visit these domesticated animals on their way to and from work or on their days off. The first Cat Cafe in Japan opened in 2005. It quickly became so popular that dozens more opened up, and by 2010 over 70 had been opened up throughout the country.

Today, animal lovers can find cafe’s that let them sip coffee and tea with their favorite animals. An Owl Cafe sits in a basement restaurant spot in Asakusa, Tokyo. Places like Harry Hedgehogs, Penguin Bar, and the Tokyo Snake Center offer exactly what they sound like they would. There’s even a Pug cafe in Osaka for fans of that specific breed of dog. It was only a matter of time before cat cafe’s headed west in the wake of their massive popularity. The first cat cafe’s started opening up in urban areas just a couple of years ago, but themed cafe’s—like Catoro—are still a rare find.


When Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli premiered My Neighbour Totoro in 1988 they didn’t anticipate it to become the cult classic that it did. Over the next couple of decades, the film and characters became symbolic of Japanese animation. They earned a fame that can only be compared to what Winnie The Pooh is to the western world. The film follows two little girls, Satsuki and Mei. After Mei finds an enchanted world, Satsuki has to go find her. Mei meets a new friend, Totoro, along the way. Totoro is a massive, cat-like creature that doesn’t speak.

The film was originally released in Japan but was later dubbed into English and released in the U.S. Since then, a handful of Studio Ghibli films have been released worldwide. The studio has often been considered as the Japanese version of Disney. It’s famous for movies like Spirited Away, Ponyo, and Howl’s Moving Castle. The Catoro Cafe opens in Vancouver this summer, but the company is still looking for donations on GoFundMe to help bring their idea into fruition.


Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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