Recently, the “cat cafe” trend has caught on in America & it’s a huge hit. Americans just can’t get enough of the concept because it’s fun & different & not to mention a great story to tell your friends & family. It’s so popular that a cat cafe in NYC has a month-long wait & others have lines around the block just to get in.
I love animals & jump at the chance to be up close & personal with them – especially exotics – so these cafes are calling my name. If you are in the same boat & don’t want to wait a ridiculous time to spend a few minutes with a cat in a cafe in NYC – Tokyo, Japan is the perfect spot for your next vacation!
See, Tokyo has been the mecca for “all things cafe” for years & animal cafes are one of their favorites. They are fun, different & reasonably priced so they draw in millions of tourists every year.
There is no question the highlight of my 1st Tokyo trip was my visit to Owl Cafe: Fukuro no Mise (“Shop of Owls”). For other “must-sees” in Tokyo, see my recent post about the top 5 things to do in Tokyo here!
If you visit Tokyo you will definitely want to add this to your list – just plan ahead because getting a “reservation” (yes, it’s in quotes & this will make sense as you read on) is complicated.
Here’s all the details you will need to enjoy these marvelous birds! Don’t forget to check out the gallery of my time at Fukuro no Mise at the end of this article
How to get a reservation
You can’t get a reservation in advance. To get a spot, you have to show up at their storefront & put your name down for an open spot the same day.
They take names 1 hour before they open – check the hours here – but I suggest getting there earlier than that because there was already a line when we arrived. One of the employees with come out to take names for the sessions that day – I believe they only have 5 or 6 sessions a day & the groups are small probably around 15 people so they fill up fast!
Once your party is down on the list you are good to go but make sure you show up at least 5 minutes before your reservation time. They will shuffle the prior session out & call names to enter for the current session. If you aren’t there at that time you lose your reservation.
Cost & session time
It’ll cost you 2,000 yen (~$17) & cash is required when you put your name down on the list. There are no refunds & they don’t accept credit cards.
Each session is an hour-long. They spend about 5 minutes on safety & instructions which includes the rules in English & Japanese as well as a quick demonstration from the employees. You also order a drink at this time which is limited to tea, coffee, lemonade, or water – hence “cafe.” Your drink will come at the end of your session as well as a gift – mine was a piece of owl jewelry.
You spend about 45 minutes interacting with the owls until they corral everyone back to their seats for the drink you ordered at the beginning. The 45 minutes flew by & although I could have spent all day there it seemed like plenty of time to hold as many owls as your heart desired (especially for how cheap it is).
The shop & the rules
I’m an animal lover & I struggle with my desire to get up close & personal with the animals or if these places are considered inhumane. I will say the owls seemed happy & I was told a large amount of them were rescues including the sweet, blind owl kept safely away from visitors (she wouldn’t have survived in the wild so was brought there – you can’t hold her because it’ll spook her). You do have to hold a rope in your hand to handle the owls but only so they don’t fly away from you as it’s attached to their feet. It doesn’t appear to hurt them though.
The store is on the small side but that’s typical for Japan. The windows are covered with material/blankets which is to restrict not only light but to block activity on the street from the owls. However, this makes it hard to notice the storefront from the street. Here is a picture to help!
A lot of places in Asia restrict pictures but not here so don’t forget your cameras! You’ll wanna snap as many photos as you can with these cute guys. If you are traveling alone, don’t worry the employees moonlight as photographers & are happy to help (& you might end up on their website like we did – see here ?). The only rule is no videos & no flash.
Be aware owls aren’t potty trained & can’t help when they let it go. It could be when you are holding them so just be ready for it. The employees will clean it up immediately though so it’s not like you are walking around in it.
Sure, it’s called a cafe but you come here for interaction with the owls & honestly you can’t beat it. There is a wide selection of owls to hold – teeny, tiny ones if you are scared or larger ones if you are brave. You pick & choose as you go – I basically held as many as I could – no holds barred :). The only rule is don’t mix the larger ones with the smaller ones – the small owls aren’t babies & the larger owls can see them as prey.
The owls are friendly & beautiful. They are tame, sweet birds that will speak to you & even jump on your head if they feel comfortable. See exactly what I mean in the picture gallery below!
Until next time fellow travelers & remember..