No Humans Allowed

No Humans Allowed

The logic behind Tokyo’s café for stuffed animals


The customers at this cafe aren’t human. Instead, Yawarakan’s Cafe is for your childhood stuffed animals to go for an afternoon coffee or on trips out of the city to a traditional ryokan (Japanese hotel). 

The most recent event at Yawarakan’s Cafe celebrated otsukimi, the festival in Japan honoring the fall moon and the harvest that comes along with it. The plushies who journeyed out on this getaway feasted on seasonal treats, dressed in a yukata (traditional Japanese clothing) custom designed for each toy based on their size, shape and favorite colors.

Sending your plushie to an event like this costs ¥3,900 — not including delivery charges. Simply mail your plushie to the cafe’s address and when it arrives it will be treated to delicious food and cute drinks. When your plushie returns, it brings a multitude of souvenirs and pictures to showcase its experience.

Reading about this stuffed animal cafe has probably gotten a few of you wondering, “What kind of person likes stuffed animals?” Well, a research paper published in Neuroscience Letters took a look into the psychology behind intrinsic motivation and found that those who have high intrinsic motivation will experience less distress after performing a task incorrectly, provided they are holding a teddy bear. It’s also been documented by psychologists and counselors that comfort objects have been shown to help those who are dealing with feelings of stress and anxiety. 

However, this does not address the other main question, “what kind of person would spend money on this kind of thing?” Approaching this question through the lens of behavioral economics, the stuffed animal service starts to make sense. 

Often the way that we choose to spend our money is not directly related to the product or service we are buying at all. Those who tend to be more curious or novelty seeking are likely to be intrigued by the concept  that your stuffed animal will come home to you with pictures of what they did without you. There is also an added element for a unique social media reaction, sending your old stuffed animal just for the reactions of your peers. In a way the marketing going into this cafe is quite genius.

Images: Yawarakan’s Cafe