What It's Like to Visit an Owl Cafe in Japan
Well, owl be darned. Okay, now that that dumb pun is out of the way, we can get down to what an owl cafe is and how you should definitely visit one if you're going to Japan. Japan is very well known for its animal-themed cafes and out of all the animals you could hang out with up close and personal with for an hour or two, why wouldn't you pick owls?
When researching which owl cafe would be the best to visit, I chose Akiba Fukurou. It was one of the few I could find that took reservations so you could ensure you'd have a timeslot to hang out with some of these majestic creatures. And according to the reviews, they seemed to really take care of the animals in a respectful way and I am very big on not visiting places that are treating living, breathing creatures unethically.
So what is an owl cafe? Well, you won't be drinking or eating here, so the cafe part is untrue. What it really means is that it's an intimate setting where you can hang out with some owls. Some cat and dog cafes actually allow you to eat and drink when visiting, but owls are very delicate creatures and it's better for them to be handled away from food and distractions.
You can make a reservation for a time on the website and arrive to the shop and wait outside. Akiba Fukurou is in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, which is known for its video game and electronics shops, but tucked away down an alleyway nearby, this little shop holds more owls than you could ever imagine. While you wait to go inside, you can read a manual about how to make sure you're being respectful of the owls and learn more about them.
You're going to read some very silly names like Cracker and Mr. President, but you'll get a chance to choose which ones you want to hold once you get inside. As you enter, Mozart plays in the venue and your guide will greet you to explain how the time will go.
Some owls are not up for grabs at certain times of day depending on their attitude or sleep level, but almost all of them will still be out for you to look at. There are owls literally everywhere. Their perches sit from waist-level all the way to up near the ceiling. Be careful of droppings on your head!
The guide will explain that you can pet the birds, but only if they are awake and their little sign says to go ahead. You then get to choose one or two owls to let sit on your arm or head. I chose a very tiny little owl named Egg Roll and he started on my arm, but made his way up to my head and eventually pooped on me. But the guides are used to this, so they have lots of handi-wipes at the ready to help clean you up.
It's just a nice relaxing hour you can spend amongst some lovely owls of all types and the reservation charge covers not only the handling of the owls, but laminated photographs of your visit, which a photographer throws together as you're enjoying yourself.
It all feels like a Care of Magical Creatures class at Hogwarts and it's very worth the $20 price tag to get up close and personal with some new owl friends. There are other types of animal cafes in Japan, like hedgehog, rabbit and cat spots, but owls aren't animals you can usually visit with like this, so I personally think it's the best pick of the varieties that exist.