Japan, as you may have heard, has a lot of unique themed cafes. Of course, the cat cafes are the most well-known, having become a bit of a social and cultural phenomenon. Now, as we mentioned earlier this week, you can stop by cafes dedicated to everything from bunnies to maids to gyaru (basically young trendy women) and find an experience tailored to your desires.
However, there’s one new cafe that opened last year that really grabbed our attention: the Fukuro no Mise, or the Owl Store, located in Tsukishima, Tokyo. After hearing about all the cute owls to be seen, petted, and held, we simply had to give it a visit! Here’s your official RocketNews24 report and photo album!
Getting to the owl cafe was pretty easy–just take the Oedo or Yurakucho subway lines to Tsukishima station and head out Gate 10. From there cross the street and walk straight ahead, past the grocery store pictured below. The cafe is on your right, less than a block from the intersection.
And here’s the storefront. As you can see, there are curtains hanging over the windows–no outside light can get in. And no pedestrians can stop to gawk either. You should have no trouble finding the cafe as there is almost guaranteed to be a crowd waiting outside. We got there around 11:30am and, following the sign on the door, knocked. Shortly after, someone peeked their head out and asked when we’d like to come back. “Come back?” She pointed to the sign on the door listing the times that still had open slots–the first one was 3:00pm!
The cafe doesn’t have any sort of advanced sign up. You come on the day and hope there will be an opening. During the week, we imagine it’s less crowded, but on the weekend? You will definitely want to arrive early! But we’d already come this far, so we shrugged our shoulders and said we’d come back at three. If you find yourself in a similar situation, we recommend getting some monja-yaki on Nakanishidori, just another block or two down. It’s worth noting that when we came back, all of the open slots for the rest of the day had been filled!
Once you’re let inside the cafe, the first thing they have you do is settle into a seat and choose a drink. Now, you’re probably not too interested in the menu, but it is technically a cafe and they make money off of the drinks. The menu is pretty simple: You can choose from iced, hot, or alcoholic drinks like coffee, tea, and beer. Since there’s no cover charge, you have to buy at least one drink–which will cost you 1,000 yen for non-alcoholic drinks or 1,200 yen for alcoholic drinks. While this might seem expensive, it also gets you one hour with the owls.
▼ Like this adorable little fellow!
Before you can play with the birds, though, they’ll run you through the rules of the cafe. You absolutely need to follow them! It’s nothing too extreme, but some of the owls can’t be held and others cannot be touched at all. Also, while photos are completely fine, you’re not allow to use your flash or take videos. Finally, when holding an owl, or, rather, when an owl is perched on you, you have to hold the tether tightly. Though the birds are quite mellow, if they get spooked or irritated, they’ll try to fly away–and that would be very bad. By hanging onto the tether, you can prevent them from smacking into a wall or getting eaten by another owl. While it’s nothing malicious, owls are birds of prey, so they’ll instinctively attack something smaller, as the owner explained.
So, whatever happens, don’t let go of the tether!
▼ Cute…but deadly!
The one last thing to be aware of at the cafe is that the owls might accidentally poop on you. If you’ve ever had a pet bird or known someone with a pet bird, you probably know just how much the creatures can push out of their butts: a lot. Don’t let this discourage you–and be sure to tell the staff right away if you see a bird drop some dookie so they can clean it up–but maybe you’ll want to avoid wearing your nicest clothes.
▼ Pictured below: One cute owl and several splatters of dried poop.
With the introduction finished, we were allowed to get up and play with the owls! My first move was to pet the adorable little guy sitting on the counter. Just look at his tiny head with those enormous eyes! It’s like an anime character came to life.
When petting the owls, there are two things you have to careful of. The first is to pet softly, from front to back. You need to go with the feathers; going against the feathers can hurt the birds. The other thing is just being aware that they might try to nibble on your hand. Apparently this is how they communicate, so unless it really hurts, they said that you should just continue petting. If you start and stop too much, apparently it will annoy the owls!
After petting the small owl for a bit, I decided it was time to see what it was like holding them! You have to ask the staff to give you an owl, to take the owl away, or to move it a different part of your body. You might have to wait a little bit for them to get to you, but since only about 12 customers are allowed in at one time, it won’t take too long.
First things first, I decided to try out an owl hat! Though owls obviously have fairly sizable talons, it didn’t hurt at all! For some reason though, the bird kept slowly inching its way toward the back of my head. Fortunately, though, no poop!
One of the first things you’re bound to notice about the owls is how quickly and sharply they move their heads. Photography can prove exceptionally difficult–they seem to move faster than the shutter!
Below is one of the larger owls. Though it’s quite tall and has an impressive wing span, the bird only weighs about 1.2 kilograms (about 2.6 pounds)! While this really isn’t shocking if you consider their basic biology, it can still be surprising just how light they are perched on your shoulder. On the other hand, this is quite the boon since it means nearly anyone can easily hold even the largest owl comfortably.
▼ Click for a larger image!
As I mentioned before, some of the owls were off-limits for various reasons. One was born blind, so we couldn’t pet him for fear of surprising him. There was also one owl that they were watching for a customer, so it wasn’t really meant to be petted. They also had a hawk owl, but it was too skittish for petting. Finally, there were two owls that were just too tired!
▼ The blind owl
▼ A customer’s owl staying at the cafe
▼ A hawk owl
▼ Too sleepy to come out and play!
▼ This big guy was sleeping, so we couldn’t hold him, but petting was okay.
And in case you’re worried, yes, he can open his left eye. That’s just how he sleeps!
If you happen to live in or be visiting Tokyo, we highly recommend stopping by the owl cafe! You’ll get about 55 minutes with the birds, and it’s in a very nice part of the city as well. We do recommend bringing along a book or a walking guide to kill the time while waiting for your slot, but there are also a few sight-seeing and shopping place in the area. Though the wait can be a bit long, there’s nothing quite like holding and petting such an exotic and wonderful creature!
If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit their website (Japanese only). Since you can’t call, this is your best source for up-to-date information in case they’re closed for an emergency.
Finally, be sure to check out the rest of our owl photos below!
All images by RocketNews24
Many thanks to Fukuro no Mise for the great time!