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 an exotic 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.

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. 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 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 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 came and 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. 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. But a small drink is included. The drink arrives covered in plastic wrap, decorated with a magic marker illustration of an owl. 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?

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COMMENTS (104)
  • EthanH-Jac
    2/04/2015 - 07:05 p.m.

    They shouldn't have an animal cafe. For one, it's gross to have animals walking around while your trying to eat. For two they use the floor as a bathroom. It's just gross!

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    2/04/2015 - 09:29 p.m.

    I would want to hang out with an owl because owls are cool. I don't like cats or rabbits since I have never someone own before. Cats get fat and rabbits get lazy. I would want to meet an owl inside a cafe. It would be fun to have an owl as company during the stay at the cafe. It would also be a very nice experience to handle an owl. It's going to get dirty, but I think it is going to be cool.
    Critical thinking challenge: If these are cafes, why is so little emphasis placed on their food and drink?
    Answer: There is so little emphasis placed on their food and drink because people normally wait until the staff pass out souvenirs.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/04/2015 - 10:27 p.m.

    I think that it is not a great idea to hang out with owls, rabbits, or cats because it is kind of scary if you look in the eye of the owl, and the cat will scratch the visitor, also the rabbits are going to make a huge mess in the visitor's home if they are bought from the store. If any of the three animals aren't harming the visitor, that will kind of be a great idea but mostly it is a bad idea.

    • Steve0620-yyca
      7/21/2015 - 08:51 p.m.

      REBUTTAL:

      I do not agree with you. I think that it will be fun to hang out with rabbits, cats, or owls because people don't usually interact with animals that often unless you have a pet and I think that it can be fun to pet them and see what they do.

  • OliviaV-3
    2/04/2015 - 11:11 p.m.

    This article is about someone who went to Japan and visited a caf where there are owls everywhere. She compares the experience to the hype in New York when a cat caf opened in Manhattan. In the owl caf, you can ask for an owl to hang with, and a worker will put one on your arm if they do not fly to you on their own. There is no food provided, just a small beverage. I liked this article because I wish there was an owl caf in California. One day I want to visit the one in Japan yet.

  • AJ_Slater
    2/05/2015 - 12:15 a.m.

    Cafes with animals are a big hit in Japan. One cafe took it one step further and provides you with an owl that will stand on your shoulder or head. They are focused on providing souvenirs for tourism. Although it is a cafe it doesn't provide any food it provides drinks with a reusable container for surverners. I think that this is a very cool concept.

  • renel-DiB
    2/05/2015 - 12:25 a.m.

    This article is a really cool one...It is one to explain of small cafe's that are popping up from New York City to Japan, specializing in the attraction of exotic animals. It offers a unique experience with animals such as goats, owl's, etc. which we would not see in a cafe normally. The emphasis is more on the animals than the food although they do offer a beverage and souvenirs but the main focus is to get to know the animals on a more personal level. After reading this article and learning about being able to hang out with an owl...it makes me want to go visit to see what its like.

  • RachelL-2
    2/05/2015 - 01:53 a.m.

    This article is about cafe's around the world (Japan, and here in America) where you can enjoy a small drink while "hanging out" with exotic animals such as cats, and owls. These cafe's are very crowded all the time, so it takes about two months in advance to make a reservation if you want to get in. You would also have to wait an hour before you enter the shop, and your place could be taken incredibly easily. In these shops, there's no photography or video taping, but little souvenirs are given out at the end to the people who attended the animal holding session. Personally, I would love to go to one of these cafe's, but I don't think would have the patience to wait for 2 months and an hour just to drink some juice with a cat.

  • L.E 1999 blue
    2/05/2015 - 08:50 a.m.

    How many people would go to a cat caf and spend a day with an animal? I know I would. If I would be able to go to Tokyo I would spend a day with a rabbit because there more smaller than a owl. I don't like birds so that's another reason why I wouldn't hang out with a bird and hang out with a rabbit. I also think that rabbits are more cuter and they are more fluffier. So I would spend a day at a cat caf and with an animal and the animal would be a rabbit.

    • MadisonBAqua
      2/05/2015 - 06:00 p.m.

      I would spend some time at an animal cafe. It would be awesome in my opinion to eat with an animal. I don't know what animal I would spend some time with.

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