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?

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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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  • PowellWilliam-DiB
    2/05/2015 - 09:29 a.m.

    A cat, rabbit, and owl cafe seems very cool. But then it doesn't because you don't know if the animals shredded hair gets in your food. Or is already in the food when it's being mad. It seems fun though. I would enjoy going to a rabbit cage though because I'm allergic to cats. And I wouldn't want birds flying around me.

  • Savannah0523
    2/05/2015 - 10:25 a.m.

    I really never heard of cat cafes in the US until this article. I always knew there were some in Japan, but now they are opening Owl cafes as well. It's also crazy to think people get overly excited about cafes allowing pets. I now really want to visit a cat cafe so hope they expand them in the Dallas area.

  • Stephanie17821
    2/05/2015 - 10:29 a.m.

    I wish we had places like this in Texas. This seems pretty cool to have animals (domestic and wild) in a cafe with you.

  • briw-boo
    2/05/2015 - 11:18 a.m.

    I would hang out with rabbits. Cats and owls creep me out. Rabbits are cute and fluffy. Cats pop up out of nowhere and their eyes look weird. Owls creep me out because the way they look at you with those big eyes and they turn their whole head around

  • kimj-boo
    2/05/2015 - 11:20 a.m.

    They placed little emphasis on their food and drink because it may be hazardous to the owls. Visitors might try to feed the owls their human food which could make the owl annoyed.

  • AliviaP-Mau
    2/05/2015 - 11:24 a.m.

    i would pretty much hang out with... all of them i love cats and how they are so soft and like to play with little balls of yarn or the toy mouse i love the rabbit and how they love carrots and there just so... cute and fluffy!!!!!!!! i like owls and there big eyes and there feathers to me feel very very very very strange like i dont know it just feels strange!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AngeliqueJRed
    2/05/2015 - 12:00 p.m.

    I would love to go to a cat , rabbit, and owl cafe, they seam so fun! Plus i love animals, but mostly cats seeing that I have two cats of my own, one two year old and a old seven year old fat cat.

  • JoseFGreen
    2/05/2015 - 12:03 p.m.

    I will like to hold a great howl owl that will be fun ,and I will what to know what is in the drink they give you?

  • Addie-Arm
    2/05/2015 - 01:06 p.m.

    I would love to eat with animals. as long as there were tamed! The only thing I would be concerned about is getting hair or fur in my food/drink. People could get to interact with animals, it could make people calmer if they play with an animals.

  • Brenna-Arm
    2/05/2015 - 01:06 p.m.

    Animal cafes put little emphasis on their food and drink because all the attention is on the animals. When you wait in line, or get reservations, all you want to see is the animals, not the food. They just give you a small drink because it's called a cafe.

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