With less than 24 hours to get a taste of Tokyo time was tight and so was the budget. So much to see and do yet so little time. Spending a valuable hour in an owl cafe seemed like a very legit and adult activity to do in celebration of my big 3-0 birthday.
~Warning~ This post contains a lot of photos of really cute owls and some odd Australians looking at really cute owls.
We arrived in Narita on time and on schedule. Did I mention how I have a horrid thing of mentally scheduling my whole existence? Well I do and things were rolling down sweet street for us. Bags securely having a play date in the luggage storage we where happily on the train to Tokyo and as per every other time I’ve visited Tokyo the city welcomed me with wet weather. Almost knicker soaking weather. On one train and off to another to find the JR Ikuebukoro station. Our first scheduled appointment was a visit to the Ikefukurou Owl Cafe. One of the reasons I chose this cafe over others was the simple booking system. An email was all that was needed to secure a time slot. Most others I had seen online where very much a turn up and hope the owl gods favoured you.
I have to admit that despite the directions given by the cafe there was a need to consult a lovely police man for directions. A huge shout out of thanks to the lovely elderly lady who came and translated for us. Once again this trip really did show me how helpful and welcoming Tokyo residents are to short term tourists.
When you finally find the cafe, and brave the elevator, you are met by a friendly staff member, booking confirmed and shoes taken off. Like most Japanese places shoes are off and placed into a bag/box for storage during your visit. Once you have put away your belongings you’re asked to disinfect your hands and listen to a brief safety talk. Which is for the benefit of the owls, not the guests. Most of the staff members here spoke really good English and they did hand over an English pamphlet covering the rules during your visit. After the safety talks you are pretty much given free range of the cafe. The staff hang around to guide visitors on patting and handling the owls.
Ikefukurou has a wide variety of owls on offer for guests to interact with. The owls are generally happy to be patted and to sit on an arm or shoulder. If you want to hold a larger owl than the staff will assist with gloves and technique. All the birds are placed around the venue on perches and secured with a soft rope.
During our visit the cafe owner was happily helping a customer with trimming his owl’s nails. We were really lucky to see just how much love and care is given for all owls by the owner.
One thing to remember is that owls are hunting birds. As you walk around you clearly see this as the big owls are hungrily watching the little owls.
Whilst I did enjoy the experience of patting the owls and the general novelty factor it was a little sad to see the small space that these birds are kept in. Coming from Australia where a venue like this would most likely not ever be allowed to be in existence it may seem a bit judgemental. There’s no sign of an aviary or cages in which the birds can stretch their wings and enjoy some alone time. Though there wasn’t any indication of any bird being stressed out.
Details of where we went-
Entry ¥1400 per person. This gave you 1 hour access to the cafe and a cold beverage.
Booking- Online system. A quick email is all that’s needed- firstname.lastname@example.org
Open from 13:00. Entry times are quite strict.
Location- 2-minute walk from JR Ikebukuro station.