Would you hang out with cats, rabbits  or owls? An owl is perched on the arm of a visitor at Fukuro no Mise, which means Shop of Owls, in Tokyo (AP photos)
Would you hang out with cats, rabbits or owls?
Lexile

In the U.S., hanging out in a cafe with animals is such an exotic concept that people can't get enough of it. A cat cafe in New York last year had lines down the bloc and 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.

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.

To get a spot, visitors are supposed to line up an hour before Fukuro no Mise opens. But when 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 so 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 and demonstration in Japanese before allowing each guest to hold a bird.

The owls come in various sizes and species, from tiny to quite large, including a great horned owl with large sharp claws and an impressive beak. Each bird has a tether around one foot, which you hold in your hand as it perches perch on your arm. Sleek and clear-eyed, the owls seem calm despite the fact that the small room is crowded.

The attentive staff will place the owl on your shoulder or head, if you like and the staff can also help if your owl starts to flap. Raising your hand in the air usually settles them down. Apparently I was holding my arm wrong, so a worker repositioned it. If you've had enough and want to just watch everyone else's owls, they'll relieve you of the bird.

Photography is forbidden in some of the oddest places in Japan, but 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 is only nominally a cafe. There's no food and only a small drink is included. The drink arrives covered in plastic wrap, decorated with a magic marker illustration of an owl. But no one pays attention to their beverage until the final activity, which involves distributing souvenirs.

Each item is held up and guests raise their hand if they want it. If too many people raise hands, winners are chosen by playing rock-paper-scissors, which seems to be the same in Japan as it is in the U.S. Souvenirs 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?

Assigned 35 times


COMMENTS (37)
  • JosieL-Rei
    2/05/2015 - 11:46 a.m.

    I think that having a owl in a coffee shop would be amazing!!!
    I think that it may be unsanitary but neat to have a furry friend with you on your day off!!!!!!!
    Josie

    • FernandoM4
      2/11/2015 - 11:06 a.m.

      I would love to visit one of these coffee shops just to spend time with owls!! I think it would be relaxing after a day of work to sit and have a cup of coffee with a furry friend!

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    2/05/2015 - 01:11 p.m.

    I honestly think this is just a phase, or at least I hope so because I think it's dirty. I know their emphasis isn't really on food but still. Shouldn't some health food inspector come and shut this stuff down?

  • MikaylaStazewski-Ste
    2/05/2015 - 01:14 p.m.

    I think hanging out with rabbits, owls, and cats at a cafe is the most adorable thing ever and I am sure it would intrigue a bunch of customers.

  • GrantW-2
    2/05/2015 - 09:51 p.m.

    This article is about the rise in animal cafes and how they have been so popular. A cafe in Japan is filled with owls and people wait for hours to get reservations.The cafe is heavily flawed because the owls are pooping on you the whole time and there is no food but people still go. I like this article because I like owls.

  • FelicianoFernando-DiB
    2/06/2015 - 09:36 a.m.

    In the U.S., hanging out in a cafe with animals is such an exotic concept that people can't get enough of it. I have never been to one of these, never knew they existed. Although hearing about this is cool so I may go to one in the future.

  • HarperChristopher-DiB
    2/06/2015 - 09:44 a.m.

    I would hangout with a cat because cat are smart but they do stupid stuff with there nine lives because when they jump and get scared and they fail and run into the wall and that fails and that is funny

  • ashleyb-DiB
    2/06/2015 - 10:33 a.m.

    I think that what people are doing to help homeless animals is very nice. Most places wouldn't even care if they saw a dog looking for food across the street.

  • jacobm-Che
    2/06/2015 - 01:47 p.m.

    i myself love all animals small and big I've never seen a owl up close before but would like to. i love cats already but never been really close to rabbits there so cute they always look like there about to say something but they never do but they are still very cute have the change to see them all at the same time would be amazing

  • rositap-Che
    2/06/2015 - 01:53 p.m.

    I wish they would have more caf in North Carolina cause I would love to be drinking coffee with an owl. I see this article very interesting and weird but the most of it very interesting.

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