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Cats, Naps Relieve Stress in Tokyo

Customers pay $8 to enter a "cat house," where they play with up to 30 felines. It's part of a new trend known as animal therapy.
Reporter Louisa Lim tests one relaxation technique, inhaling oxygen bubbled through a mixture of lime, bayberry, lavender tangerine, peppermint and wintergreen.
Louisa Lim, NPR /
In sleep-deprived Japan, where people work incredibly long hours, salarymen nap on the Tokyo subway. There's now a business where customers can drop by and pay to get a few minutes' sleep.

Businesses in Tokyo -- one of the most fast-paced, high-stress cities in the world -- are offering customers places to relax by playing with cats or grabbing some shuteye.


Relaxation is a huge industry, worth about $30 billion a year in Japan. Louisa Lim examines some services businesses are offering to relieving that stress -- including an oxygen bar, an animal-therapy center and a sleep salon.

Her first stop is in the basement of a department store in the ritzy Tokyo district of Ginza, where she visits an oxygen bar. The therapy is advertised as "good for you because it activates your metabolism, it revives your cells, it burns fat, helps with hangovers and maintains your beauty."

For about $9, customers get 10 minutes of oxygen, available in more than 20 liquid "flavors." The most popular is a mixture of lime, bayberry, lavender tangerine, peppermint and wintergreen.

Next stop Lim's Tokyo relaxation tour is an animal-therapy center in the back of a shop called Cats Livin'. An $8 fee allows customers to enter a model house full of cats. It's an ideal place to interact with the felines for people in big cities like Tokyo who can't keep pets themselves.

And finally, there's The Good Sleep Salon, located in a nondescript office building. About 1,000 members pay $8 for a quiet cubicle in which to take a nap. They're offered CDs with soft "healing" music and a cup of coffee -- counterintuitive for sleeping, but recommended to ensure customers wake up easily, says a member of the nap salon staff.


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