Would you hang out with cats, rabbits or owls?
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In the U.S., hanging out in a cafe with animals is an unusual concept. People can't get enough of it. A cat cafe in New York last year had lines down the block. Online reservations for another Manhattan cat cafe are almost fully booked more than two months in advance.
But in Japan, cat cafes are just the start. You can hang out in rabbit cafes. Or have coffee in Tokyo with two goats. And you're not limited to domestic animals. You can also spend an hour at a cafe holding a great horned owl.
I decided to go to one.
Judging by how complicated it was to get a reservation at Tokyo's Fukuro no Mise ("Shop of Owls"), the owl cafes are just as much of a hoot there as cat cafes are here.
I showed up an hour early. I was lucky to get the last seat for a session two hours later. There are no refunds on the 2000 yen ($17) fee. If you're late, you lose your slot.
Inside, I was given a list of detailed English instructions. For example, only touch the owls on the head or back. And while the owls are very tame, "they can't be potty trained like dogs. So please be generous when they potty on you!"
The woman in charge also gave a long talk. There was a demonstration before each guest was allowed to hold a bird.
The owls come in various sizes and species. Some are tiny while some are quite large. There was even a great horned owl. It had large sharp claws and an impressive beak. Each bird has a tether around one foot, which you hold in your hand as it perches on your arm. The owls seem calm despite the fact that the small room is crowded.
The staff will place the owl on your shoulder or head, if you like. Staff can also help if your owl starts to flap. Raising your hand in the air usually settles them down. But apparently I was holding my arm wrong. A worker repositioned it. If you've had enough and want to just watch everyone else's owls, the workers will relieve you of your bird.
Photography is forbidden in some of the oddest places in Japan. This isn't one of them. No flash is allowed (and no video). But posting a shot of yourself on social media holding an owl is clearly a goal for many visitors.
Unlike some other animal cafes in Japan, this place serves no food. But a small drink is included. The drink arrives covered in plastic wrap. It is decorated with a magic marker illustration of an owl.
At the end, souvenirs were given out. They included a photo book, cell phone charms, chopsticks and a cloth decorated with owls.
Critical thinking challenge: If these are cafes, why is so little emphasis placed on their food and drink?