Reptile Cafe: Something Newt in Yokohama!
Looking for lounge lizards in all the wrong places? Well leggo my gecko! Yokohama Subtropical Tea (???????), Japan's first and only (we assume) “reptile cafe”, offers guests a pleasant getaway from daily stresses along with the chance to get up close and personal with the cold-blooded staff.
Yes, staff... the cafe's website refers to the resident scaly critters as such though don't assume they'll be bringing you your tea on a silver platter. Instead, feel free to enjoy these creatures in their unnatural habitat which is, by the way, non-smoking.
=Manager Atsushi Nagano says he got the idea for the reptile cafe from noticing the “beautiful diversity of shapes, colors, and interesting movements” of reptiles and thought that others might appreciate them as well.
The 42-year-old Nagano opened Yokohama Subtropical Tea on the 4th of July and not only has his cafe proved popular, it's attracted an unexpected variety of customers, some of whom stay for up to 5 hours!
Nagano was also surprised to note that many of his customers were women who enjoyed talking about reptiles. One supposes that apart from the zoo, there weren't many places where reptilophiles (is that a word?) can go to share mutual interests... until now.
At present, Yokohama Subtropical Tea hosts as many as 30 different reptiles and amphibians including 11 different types of newts.
It also boasts a “free range” area at the back of the cafe where tortoises can roam about within a fenced area. Customers may touch the tortoises but afterwards are obliged to use the hand sanitizer on-hand, so to speak, for that very purpose.
Speaking of which, Yokohama Subtropical Tea meets all relevant city heath & safety bylaws and according to Mr. Nagano it took a year to get approval from the Health Dept before he could open the cafe to the public. So not to worry: at Japan's first and only reptile cafe, the staff may croak but you won't! (via Excite News, MSN Sankei, and Yokohama Keizai Shimbun)
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