Japan is known for plenty of things: food, anime, fashion, technology, etc. It's also known for its culture of animal cafés that are scattered around the nation and in cities. These places are venues in which consumers pay hourly fees to eat, drink, or just relax in the presence of domesticated animals which they may also get to play with or pet. Famous are the cat cafés of Japan which are basically everywhere in this country-- people opt to go to these as many people are unable to keep cats in their own apartments due to lack of resources, no time to care for them, laws or rules, or what have you. Consequently, there are many venues for one to just go and enjoy the presence of many animals for a little while.
I, personally, hadn't really had any interest in going to a cat café per se as I figured it wasn't that worth it to pay over $10 to play with cats when many people I know have their own. However, when I realized that there were other kinds of animal cafés that were not merely cat-centric, I reevaluated. Here in Japan, there are also bunny cafés and even snake cafés in some parts. However, what really got me was the existence of owl cafés. Before coming to Japan, I had seen plenty of videos and Vines of Japanese people with their pet owls and I was always one to gawk at the cuteness of it all. When I found out there were cafés I could go to where I could live out these dreams and things I'd seen before, I did not hesitate.
One Friday afternoon, a friend and I went to this one venue called Akiba Fukurou, which literally translates to Akiba Owl (Akiba being the area which the café is in, Akihabara in Tokyo). Though not technically a café as customers do not get drinks or food in this place, this place seemed the best out of any options I had seen online. Also, feeding the owls is strictly prohibited at this café, which they state is in order to maintain the health of the owls. In my opinion, I thought this was a better and more humane practice, so I wanted to go here even more to support the business.
In order to spend an hour with the owls, I simply had to email a reservation request, which is outlined on the website in multiple languages including English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Afterwards, I would get a confirmation and I was set to go. Upon entry, I had to pay 1500 yen for the hour, which although not the cheapest was definitely worthwhile for the sheer fact that I got to be with so many owls. Inside, the space is small and people are limited (that's why you HAVE to make a reservation-- they cap entry per hour to keep the owls in a stress-free, calm environment). The inside is a shiny, white, and cute little space with chairs and so. many. owls. perched on the exterior perimeter. I kid you not, there were over twenty different owls and each was so damn cute. They each had names with nametags, species identification, and current status as to whether one could pet or pick it up. Again, great animal care!
Over the course of the hour, I got pet each owl I could and take many pictures while just enjoying this experience. The café plays soft music in the background to encourage a calming and therapeutic space. The staff are always on hand and assist with any issues or requests. I got to hold two owls (the max per person per session) and the café also takes a commemorative photo they print out that is included in the price. Overall, it was a wonderful experience that I definitely would do again. I mean, what's not to love about being in the same room with calm, majestic, and beautiful owls? Unless you hate birds, this kind of experience is a must. Many pictures were taken, many baby noises were made, and many great memories were made within this hour. I finally got to go to an animal café in Japan and honestly, I'm so glad it was an owl café because that was one of the nicest experiences I had in a while. It was calming, adorable, and just so cozy. A+, 10/10 would recommend.
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<p>Hi, I'm Alex. I'm a junior at Columbia University majoring in Urban Studies and dabbling in other areas of interest like race & ethnicity studies. Outside of school, I like to eat, cook, take pictures, shop, have long conversations, and travel. Food, fashion, culture, literature, and music are all things I love. Black and gold are my favorite colors. Having lived in New York City for two years now, I feel quite at home. However, living in Japan is something I have wanted to do all my life, so I'm quite excited to finally live out that dream. From the local culture to the food to the fashion, I'm pumped to engage with it all during my semester abroad.</p>