Japan's Owl Cafe Trend

Akihabara is filled with goods and services that deal with Japanese manga and its pop culture of comic books, anime figures, anime fashion, idols and etc; yet aside from the Japanese manga/music community, there is a calming place away from the busy streets of Akihabara, known as animal cafes that have been trending in this decennium. 

Below is a video of some tourists visiting an owl cafe located in Osaka.

Animal cafes range from reptiles, cats to rabbit cafes, but there is a particularly unique pet cafe known as the owl cafe in Akihabara (Tokyo), called the The Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe. This cafe is located roughly 5 minutes away in walking distance from the Akihabara Station (a transit stop).

A close picture of a cute and gentle owl with marble eyes. Photo by Flickr@Tim Brennan

A close picture of a cute and gentle owl with marble eyes. Photo by Flickr@Tim Brennan

In the owl cafe, owls show their interests towards the attendees by the owls natural soft glances towards the valued visitors, and many say it's very relaxing to interact with the owls in a therapeutic kind of approach.  

With a total of around 25 well-behaved different owls, these owls vary by size and breed. 

Reservations at the Tokyo Owl Cafe fully booked on this particular day. Photo by Flickr@John Gillespie

Reservations at the Tokyo Owl Cafe fully booked on this particular day. Photo by Flickr@John Gillespie

The stationary etiquette owls makes the total space of around 400 square feet sized Akibahara Fukurou cafe a very pleasant and spacious enough environment for the visitors and their owl companions. Although I heard that these places can get crowded due to its popularity, one can possibly make reservations for a certain owl cafe in Akihabara ahead of time by clicking the link below: 

https://www.viator.com/tours/Tokyo/Owl-Cafe-Experience-in-Akihabara/d334-23033P1

Information surrounding the owl caretaker/proprietor at Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe:

The one who takes care of the owls there is the owner and his name is Shinsaku Yabe. Mr. Yabe says that owls are more than a pet; they are more like a friend or a person to him. The owl caretaker shares from his experiences by explaining that each individual owl has their own unique characteristics. He goes on revealing that when a person sees pictures of owls or reads about them, they do not see their personality firsthand. He states that people are welcome to visit his owls at the cafe if they are interested. Mr. Yabe would be very pleased.

The owl cafe owner mentions, "It's all about feeling." Getting to know the owls allows Shinsaku Yabe to name the delicate feathery creatures in accordance with their appearances. For example, a frosty looking owl with the mixed colors of tree bark and snow was named "Snowman." 

An image of the barn-owl turning its head. Photo by Flickr@Tim Brennan

An image of the barn-owl turning its head. Photo by Flickr@Tim Brennan

The experience with these owls can be mentally soothing and better yet, it can heal your spirit. The calming euphoria that one may undergo during this experience is possibly one of the reasons why people revisit the owl cafe. 

Quan Mckirly, author of a CNN article about the Akibahara owl cafe, writes about how one customer revisits the cafe because it is very rare to see the owls and how civil they can be.

One would not see an owl in the town of Akihabara, but when a person enters the Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe, you can see an abundance of owls at a single cafe, and that experience itself is very unique. Some people have visited the owl cafe 60-70 times. According to Mr. Mckirly, even with the amount of visits the cafe has received, there has not been any recorded instances where a customer mentions, “Owl be back,” the play on words of the famous Terminator movie line, "I’ll be back.”

Visitors come back to visit the cafe not just for the owls’ rarity. The customers perhaps get the euphoric effects from the pleasant atmosphere the owls provide; similar to when a person who enjoys nature visits the quiet green meadows of a prairie. 

On the website, Time Travel Turtle, it mentions that the price of the Akibahara owl cafe is 1500 yen per hour (around $14.50) with its method of payment being a cash only transaction. 

People are able to spend quality time with the owls by sitting at one of the prepared tables, allowing oneself to enjoy the pleasant experience of petting the unique, soft, and soothing feathers as the owls call upon their clients with a soft murmur. 

Picture of eager and friendly southern white-faced owls. Photo by Flickr@Yuki Hirano

Picture of eager and friendly southern white-faced owls. Photo by Flickr@Yuki Hirano

Picture taking, Feeding and small advice for Owl Cafe attenders:

Towards the end of the session, the owl cafe staff can take some pictures of the customers and their friendly owl companion(s) if the clients wish to do so. 

Also, there is no need for the owls to eat food which is intended for the customer because food for owls such as frozen mice can be obtained at the cafe.

The Akibahara owl cafe puts its efforts mainly into owl related services compared to the quality of the food and drinks; therefore, it can be a good idea to bring coffee or even snacks of your own in accordance with the cafe's rules and regulations. 

An elegant owl on top of a beautiful lady. Photo by Flickr@TheMarcusChance

An elegant owl on top of a beautiful lady. Photo by Flickr@TheMarcusChance

How the cafe’s owls might feel about the situation that they are in:

Visitors may be sympathetic towards the owls’ states of mind and perhaps wonder, "Shouldn't these owls deserve more freedom?" 

Thankfully, from the information I have learned through researching the owl cafe (sources are listed below), the owls at the Akibahara Fukurou Cafe are treated with loving care and kindness. Mr. Yabe takes the owls home every night for meals consisting of mice. The CNN article by Mckirly contemplates whether Mr. Yabe gets any sleep at all because owls are nocturnal creatures who naturally do not sleep at night. 

Owls looking sleepy in the owl cafe. Photo by Flickr@Toukou Sousui 淙穂鶫箜

Owls looking sleepy in the owl cafe. Photo by Flickr@Toukou Sousui 淙穂鶫箜

The Origin of the Owls at the Cafe:

The owls are from a breeder who is Mr. Yabe's trusted friend and are mostly from Europe. The owls that reside at Mr. Yabe's cafe are used to human interaction and care from a young age. The Owls are crossbred with native owls in Japan, so the owls at the cafe vary in breed. 

Subtly calming to observe and spend quality time with along with their cute oval physique and seemingly very soothing feathery touch, it is not a surprise why so many are fond of spending time with the well-behaved, respected puffers.  

Although this article itself is generally based on a particular owl cafe, one has many options of owl cafes to go to, each with various differences just like the owls themselves. 

 Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe Address:

67 Kanda Neribeichō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to, 101-0022, Japan

Open hours:

11:00am until 6:00pm or 8:00pm

Price:

1500 yen (roughly $14.50) per hour and limited to one reservation per hour. 

How to get there:

Go to Akihabara Station. From there, walk for 5 minutes north-east and you will find the cafe located at 67 Kanda Neribeicho. The Fukuro Cafe is on the ground floor of a building in a quiet area of town. This cafe has pictures of owls on the outside to make the cafe easier to find. 

Source: 

http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/09/travel/tokyo-akiba-fukuro-owl-cafe/

http://www.timetravelturtle.com/2015/02/tokyo-owl-cafe-akiba-fukurou/