My First and Only Experience of Owl Cafes in Japan
While we were in Asakusa, wondering around looking for something to do. We came across a woman standing outside in the mall holding a giant owl. She was dressed in what looked like a safari outfit and holding a sign advertising an "owl cafe". Animal cafes are something synonymous with Japan, and we felt we had to give one a try.
I am allergic to cats and bunnies aren't my thing. I adore owls. Their abjectly grumpy personalities, their beautiful feathers and their creepy eyes. So we threw caution to the wind, didn't bother looking on yelp, and ventured in.
We paid $8 each to enter the "cafe". The admission came with a free drink and as much time as we wanted to spend inside the "jungle" themed cafe. We went up a narrow set of stairs into the Jungle Owl Cafe. Everyone inside was VERY nice and seemed to treat the owls as any one of us would treat our pets. That being said, almost right away we felt sad looking at these owls tied up inside this relatively small space. I think in retrospect we should have spent more time researching. But I will say, that this cafe, unlike many many other, ensures that the light inside is very dark, as the animal are nocturnal and sleep during the day. This cafe also didn't allow you to pet all the owls, and some were only for observation.
These owls wearing Halloween themed witch hat looks sad, but they're just sleeping. And in case you're wondering - the hats are only balancing on their heads, not fixed on there or anything...not that that makes it that much better.
The habit which the owls were perched on was quite lovely. The "jungle" theme was more forest like but did give the feeling of being in the outdoors.
We sat inside the "cafe" part of the shop where they had a few chairs and some vending machine. Dan went to get a drink while I came across this lone tiny owl and gingerly tried giving it a pet. He/she was a very sweet creature and didn't seem to mind me saying hello. I didn't wanna press my luck too far and decided just to have a little chat with him while waiting for Dan.
Dan's favourite part of the day was playing with this vending machine which gave you a live view of the coffee being made inside the machine as you ordered it. Pretty funky.
The few owls they did have out which you could pet were TERRIFYING! It's only when you see these things in person, up close, that you're like, "Oh right, this is a wild animal that should probably not be locked up in here and most likely won't love me poking it....."
The best part of the place was a cute little dog the owner had named "Gigi" who was the sweetest little puppy. Dan had a lovely cuddle with her while romantic music played over the speakers. True love.
The snowy owl was the cutest and softest thing I'd even touched, but I couldn't help feeling sorry for the poor thing. After we left we just felt awful. I suppose that's why I'm writing this. To let others know. I will say once more; we never got the sense while in here that the animals were being poorly treat. All the people working there were so kind, gentle and clearly cared for them. But do they belong in here? No. Beautiful as they may be, they might be better observed in the wild or in a book or on tv. Sometimes travel provides lessons learned along the way; this was one of those days.