Have you ever seen Owls in real life? I meant - not in the Zoo...
In Japan, there are so many theme cafes/ restaurants - namely Cat Cafe, Snake Cafe, Bunny Cafe, Gundam Cafe, Robot Cafe, Maid Cafe etc. Amongst all the theme cafe, Owls cafe has been really popular for the tourists and it is my favorite theme cafe in Japan. There were many Owls cafes to choose from, I ended up with this Owl Cafe & Bar Owl Village in Harajuku.
Firstly, please make sure you make a reservation online (you won't be charged for the reservation) at least a week before going to the cafe. My reservation was on 11am which was the first slot, and there were customers queuing in front of us without appointment. You can find the above photo showed that the reservation of the day was clearly FULL, hence they were disappointed and left unwillingly after checking with the staff.
* Tips: To avoid disappointment, please make sure you spend a few minutes on their website to make reservation. You can make reservation one month in advance.
Since there is a time limit of 60mins per visit, we were there 10 mins before it was opened. We paid at the counter when we entered and were given drinks (inclusive in the package) at the cafe for approx 15-20mins before entering the Owls area. We had the opportunity to play with the owls for 35mins, it was really an awesome experience.
There were 7-8 of them with different species from different countries, Bob was the biggest 1.8kg - Eurasian Eagle Owl. The staffs were cautious and made sure we disinfect our hands before entering the Owls area. Clear instructions were given before we enter the area and the staff explained again of how to pet the owls while the friendly staff was there monitoring small groups of customers. There were only 4 of us there and absolutely well behaved by petting Owls carefully and quietly while taking photos with flash OFF. Didn't expect the feathers were so soft and found them all with unique characters.
You may pet some of them with your hands (to slowly waive your hands to them so that they are prepared for your gentle touch), fingers or even request for Owl flying to your glove experience, depends on the Owls' characters. Some Owls were too shy to be touched, hence please make sure you follow the instruction carefully.
The staff was friendly to answer any questions we raised, very informative. It was great to see them taking care of the Owls so well.
** Note: You will be denied entry if you are sick such as cold/ flu, this is to avoid passing on the sickness to the Owls. I'm glad that they are very strict to protect their Owls.
Small owl is a predator interest to large species, hence the staff arranged the Owls in a strategic way to separate them from each other. This particular cafe actually has an amazing trees/ forest view from the window.
I requested to hold Bob during the visit, hence I was provided a special glove to do so. Bob was so heavy - 1.8kg, I only managed to hold him for less than 5 mins since he was so heavy. Incredible experience!
Usually I am not interested to see animal suffer from being captured and displayed for commercial benefit but this cafe changed my perspective. When I browsed through their website, they appeared to be very strict on taking care of the owls. Below is the information I found from their website (I didn't change a word, just for your reference):
Promise of the Owl
Owl is very timid. And it is strong vigilance animal
It may become panic and to stimulate the owl in a loud voice and quick movement. When stroking the owl, from showing the palm of the hand to the owl, please give gently stroked his head. And, because the owl would be surprised, mobile phones and electronic devices will be asked to set to silent mode.
It is free to take a photo. However, because there is a risk that the owl loses vision, use of flash and auxiliary light is strictly prohibited. Check the settings of the camera and mobile phone in advance, please turn off the flash function.
In addition, the camera before taking pictures of the owl to take test shots toward the floor, please confirm that the flash is turned off.
Also, shooting equipment such as selfie stick may stimulate owls, so please do not use them.
To the staff when you want to put in hand the owl
Please tell us to staff when you want to put into the hands of the owl. Please be careful not to put in the bare hands of the owl. We offer a dedicated gloves.
In addition, although when you are put in the hands of the owl staff has been attached to the side, please be careful so as not to close a small species to absolutely large species. Small owl is a predator interest to large species. It is not helpful and would have been gripped by the powerful claws of birds of prey, please do not close to the absolute.
Birds can not toilet training
Toilet there is some fixed location, but you can not basically control.
Please come to the store with clothes and the shoes which can become dirty, because you may become dirty.
In our shop we offer cape slippers. When you wish, please say to us.
Please do not touch the owl with the attention sign
Owls with attention signs such as "Do not touch" and "During break" are still being trained or resting, so please do not touch them and just watch them.
Even if you do shoot it is okay.
About the person who can't enter the store and the target age
・Those who are drunk, we refuse to enter the store.
・To visit us before, who has been in contact with wild birds does not offer any shop.
・If you have a cold (especially cough), please wear the mask.
・Preschool children is available only cafe space. Not available come to the owl space. (In preschoolers, when a seat is unnecessary, the seat charges are not necessary. If your seat is required, will be charged a fee of 1 people.)
・Customers of elementary school and junior high school students, please come to the store by a protector companion. (Also who accompanied requires admission.)
How to make a booking:
There isn't any phone number provided because the owls are very sensitive towards sound. Unless you have sufficient time to visit the store to make a reservation in advance, the only way to make a booking is to go to their website to chose the available time slot (60 mins) and book it without credit card information. You will only pay it when you get there.
Here is the website:
150-0001, 4F Harajuku-ATM BUilding, 21-15, Jingumae 1 Chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
How to get there:
- 1 minute walk from JR Harajuku Station from Takeshita exit.
When you get out from Takeshita exit from JR Harajuku Station, turn left and walk through before "Harajuku Ash". Remember, turn left - not walk straight to the "Harajuku Ash".
When you find a noodle restaurant "Seiya" on the first corner, the Owl village Harajuku is just in that building, 4th floor.
Japan is easily at the top of my travel list despite I have been there multiple times. I will update some travel information and tips from time to time.