We have seen our fair share of pet cafes with dogs and cats, but it is in the land of the strange and wonderful that you will find owl cafes. Located on a little street off Tokyo’s Akihabara district (also known as the land of the otaku/geeks), you will find Japan’s first owl cafe featuring over 30 feathered hooters.
Pet cafes gained popularity due to the impracticality of pet ownership in Tokyo’s tiny apartments, as a place where one could still enjoy having a pet to play with. Owls are especially popular in Japan as not they are only adorable, owls are also a symbol of good fortune.
While there are a number of owl cafes in Tokyo, I chose this particular one as customers are allowed a high level of interaction with its owls. Reservation is also mandatory, which meant I could avoid wasting time queuing. The cafe allows up to 12 guests per session (1 hour), and guests are requested to arrive 15 minutes ahead of the reserved time slot for a short briefing on dos and dont’s. Payment is also collected upfront, so get ready the cash. The place is also not huge, so do make this the first stop of your day to avoid carrying your entire shopping there.
Pick your favourite Hooter from the Akiba Fukrou family. Apparently, these owls have a pretty good life. They go home to rest with the owner after a day’s of work, where they are rewarded with a feast of, erm, frozen white mice. I guess none of the customers would want to witness feeding at the cafe. I would freak out.
You seem to have stepped into another world once you enter the café – one where you have to speak in low voices and not move in sudden movements to avoid startling your new feathered friends – which is a direct opposite from the busy streets just outside. No flash photography is allowed, unless you want to risk being pecked by a whole gang of angry owls.
I was very fascinated with the variety of owls perched in this little room – I never knew there were that many! The well-behaved bunch consisted of a mix of native and imported species in widely-differing sizes, bred and domesticated from birth. You are allowed to touch the owls, and the correct way would be to gently stroke them with just one finger. While it may be tempting to cuddle them like a Pokemon soft toy, it would be best to keep them at an arm’s length. Afterall, they are still wild at heart.
The owls are named after their personalities, and their names are indicated in the green sign above them. This huge fella named Takoyaki was almost half my body length. I wondered if it got its name – and size – from eating too many takoyaki. If I saw it in the wild, I would probably have shrieked and fainted.
Just look at its claws!
This fella was probably feeling a little anti-social that day, perching itself near the ceiling.
Some others were trying to catch forty winks.
“I am not talking to you.”
This little feather ball almost had me exploding in laughter – SO CUTE!
What beautiful animals they are.
Meet Mr President. I bet it would make a better president than the recent ones we have.
Mr President is also a very curious creature. Don’t you adore his big round eyes?
And this one threw me a dirty look, hermp.
Each customer is invited to choose to an owl and sit at one of the small tables with it. This one named Gorilla caught my fancy with its ‘shocked’ look.
Unfortunately, Gorilla was rather camera-shy – no matter how I turned it, its head remained right in the same position – away from the camera and away from me. My hand was also getting tired from holding the sizable bird.
Others got into mischief and climbed on top of a customer’s head. Another one pooped on the pants of the customer, to which the staff cooed “He likes you.” Wow, what a way to show love.
By then I was getting a little restless as I searched for my second owl to hold. I was drawn to these two docile barn owls who watched me as I moved aimlessly around the place looking for THE one.
I love its heart-shaped face! This little sweetie is called Whitebait, or しらす (shi ra su) in Japanese.
This time, the staff put Whitebait right on my shoulder instead of perching it on my arm. I was initially a little apprehensive that it would poop on me or peck my eyeballs.
This little sweetie quickly won me over. It was so tame and sweet. Its feathers felt so soft too. I had so much fun with it, I really wanted to bring Whitebait home.
This was my first encounter upclose with this creature of the night. Apart from being menacing prey hunters that we usually see in photographs, they are also affectionate, soft to the touch and so adorable.
Owl be back for more. (Couldn’t resist the corny pun :p)
Akiba Fukurou Owl Café アキバフクロウ
Address: 67 Kanda Neribeichō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to, 101-0022, Japan
Opening Hours: 12:00PM – 6:00PM
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/akibafukurou
Price: 1,500 yen an hour, cash only. Reservation mandatory, book online up to 3 days in advance.
Getting there: Take the train to Akihabara station, followed by a 5-min walk. Directions here.
Note there is no phone at the cafe, so communication is via email only.
Here’s a list of animal cafes in Tokyo as well, from owls, dogs, cats, lizards and even snakes. Only in the Land of the strange & wonderful! :)