The 5 Best Owl Cafes in Akihabara
Imagine standing on a busy street corner in the middle of the day in one of the largest metropolitan areas of the world. You are hoping to get directions to a local business - one that is usually open at this time of day and one that is often well known by the community. You just want to spend a hour or so, relaxing with a cold drink and sitting comfortably watching the staff and guests as they mingle and interact. “Where is the nearest Owl Cafe?” you ask a scurrying commuter. If you are not in the Akihabara neighborhood of Tokyo, the response that you get may not be suitable for printing in this publication. It is there that you will find one of the best concentrations of Owl Cafes in the world and a place that draws thousands of tourists a year to enjoy this unique and slightly strange (to Americans at least) place of business.
Lumped together under the generic term ‘Animal Cafe’, this combination petting area and refreshment stand can be found throughout Japan and many other Southeast Asian countries. Officially listed as an Animal Handling store/business, the concept began in 1998 with a cat cafe in Taiwan. Now, these businesses have become so popular that reservations are often required and visits are limited to 30 minute intervals. A wide range of animals may be found in these locations including rabbits, goats, otters, chinchillas and reptiles. Handling the animal is optional but regardless there are rules that must be followed or the human is asked to leave.
Even in a large city, such locations are limited. Because of their simple concept and popularity, websites have only basic information and are often in Japanese. A translating browser will be needed if you use the links provided below. In addition to Owl Cafes, a few links to other types of animal cafes round out this review. Lastly, it may be helpful, before you plan to visit one of these establishments on an upcoming trip to think past the experience of handling a Great Horned Owl and how animal and human behavior might clash. Regardless, the experience can only be described as uniquely special and should be contemplated if Tokyo is a destination.
A reservation only establishment, this location is also a no phone environment. It appears that all reservations are made through the online portal and the website does caution patrons to make reservations with some advance notice. This business has one of the most informative websites and can be set for English, French, Japanese and Chinese languages. The online reservation tool is clearly posted in the upper right corner and operates in languages other than Japanese. In addition to the experience, the customer walks away with a complimentary photo and has access to a gift shop for other purchases. Classical music and low light are also part of the package (likely more for the naturally nocturnal owls than the customers). Adults and children over 7 may make reservations at the rate of Y2000 per hour. Owls may be touched gently and photographed without flash photography. No video is allowed. Management does provide an activity guide so that customers can get the most of the hour they have paid for. Payment is cash only, even in the gift shop. The shop generally opens at 12 noon except for Tuesdays when it is closed.
Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe | Address: 〒101-0022 67, Neribeicho, Kanda, Chiyodaku, Tokyo | Phone: +81 3-6206-4095 | Reservations: akiba2960.com | Website: http://akiba2960.com/
A location that is a bit more selective with its hours of operation, this site has been open since 2012. Just a one minute walk from Tsukishima station exit 10, its entrance is clearly marked. Closed on Mondays and Tuesday, the cafe opens at 2pm on weekdays and noon on weekends. Closing times vary by day. No reservations are mentioned on the website so be prepared for lines during peak times. The hour long ‘visit’ is part education lecture, drink service and time with the Owls. Information via website is limited although there does seem to be an unofficial Facebook page to which visitors post reviews. There is no phone number listed and reservations - if available - are only made in person. Expect the shop to be cash only. Part of an apparent franchise that includes two other locations, this Tokyo location seems to be the newest in the group.
Fukuro no Mise | Address: 1 Chome-27-9 Tsukishima, Chūō, Tokyo 104-0052, Japan | Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fukuro-No-Mise-Owl-Cafe/1439928386251162
With a website that has specific English only pages, information about this location seems quite reliable. Promoted as a Cafe & Bar, reservations can be made for any of the three locations. Food and drink is available and served in separate rooms from what are called the ‘healing’ rooms where the owls are displayed. A view of the owls is available from the cafe side but food is offered only in an ‘Owl Free’ zone. Reservations are for a 60 minute time period with the owl and require a cover charge of Y1500 during weekdays. Operating hours are 11 am to 7 pm. Reservations can be made online up to a month in advance.
Owl Village in Harajuku | Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 1 Chome−21−１| Phone: +81 3-6712-7739 | Reservations: owlvillage.jp | Website: https://www.owlvillage-en.jp/
With a total of four locations in and around Tokyo, this operation has been in business since 2015. The name stands for The Forest of the Owl and the decor is in keeping with this theme. Each location sets its own hours of operation and specialty. The location at Akihabara offers an aquarium setting in addition to the owls. With no time limits and no reservations needed, the cafe does provide a more flexible atmosphere for those who may not want to spend a full hour in the presence of Owls. Reservations for groups is requested as a courtesy. Hours of operation for the Akihabara location are 12 noon to 10 pm on weekdays and 11 am to 10 pm on weekends. Other locations have other varieties of birds and small animals to add diversity to their operations. An English only website is available but the Japanese site is the most helpful.
Costs are not well publicized and are not listed on the online reservation page. With four locations, no reservations and longer hours than other shops, these locations are a great choice for the visitor who is more inclined to spontaneous attendance than the well planned visit.
Jungle Cafe Owl no Moir - Akihabara | Address: 5th Floor, 〒101-0021 4-5-8 KOKUSAKDA, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan | Phone: +81 03-3254-6366 | Website: https://owlnomori.net/
With a maximum occupancy of just 12 patrons, this Owl Cafe requires reservation as well as cash only payments. Listed as Shinjuku's first owl cafe, the shop opens on weekdays beginning at 12 noon and on weekends and holidays at 11 am. All reservations are for an hour with the last ticket being honored at 8 pm on weekdays and 7 pm on weekends and holidays. Admission is per person and includes one drink. Unlike most animal cafes, this one has a link for online reservations with three choices being required before the reservation will be sent. The cover charge (which includes one drink) is listed as Y1500 on weekdays and Y1800 on weekends and holidays. The ‘staff’ consists of 12 owls of various species and unique temperaments. Owls can be purchased from this dealer and are likely bred in captivity rather than trapped in the wild.
Owl Cafe MofuMofu | Address: YM Building 5F3-chome, No. 2 Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan | Phone: +81 3-5925-8780 | Reservations: reserva.be | Website: http://mohumohu99.jp/
Sakuraoka (Goats) | ADDRESS: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku Sakuragaoka-cho, 23-3 Shinoda Building 1F | TEL: 03-5728-3242
Preparing for the visit
In most cases, the visit to an owl cafe is more structured than implied by the information on most websites. Here are a few tips to make your visit as enjoyable as possible.
Many of these animal cafe locations have standard rates or cover charges that make operating in cash desirable. Unless offered through a reservation service, operations are typically CASH ONLY. To estimate the cost of a typical cover charge, 1500 yen is approximately $14 USD depending on the exchange rate at the time of your visit.
Check your Schedule
Unlike other animal cafes, these locations seem to favor 60 minute time intervals for visits. Even if you take into consideration the time for instruction, drink service and photography, there may still be a great number of minutes for you and your owl to bond. Keep in mind that owls are not as active as the rabbits, goats and other creatures that staff other cafes. Time with the owl may be very low key and uneventful.
Unless you are considered a regular visitor, some form of instruction is going to be given before handling the owl. The instructions may not make sense but it is wise to follow them. Keep in mind that owls, just like people, have their limits as to how much handling they are willing to take. Patience on your part will likely make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.
Captive Bred is not Domesticated
Many of these establishments bred and raise their owls in captivity. All too often, animals in captivity are seen as similar to those who are kept as pets. In the case of owls, they have not gone through the centuries of breeding and cultivating which produces a domesticated animal. Instinctually, these owls are still wild and powerful creatures who have sharp talons and beaks. Wingspans can be up to five feet across. There is always the chance that the owl can unexpectedly hurt its handler. Care should be taken to keep your face away from the bird.
Dress for Success
Gloves and other leather guards that handlers need to protect themselves will be provided by the store but you can help them keep accidents to a minimum by wearing clothing that is durable, has long sleeves, and is easily washed. Jewelry should be removed as it may attract the attention of the sharp eyed companion. Another suggestion would also be to wear closed toed shoes to avoid bird droppings.
Children Welcome with Conditions
As is stated on the more informative websites, the time spent with the owls is intended to be a time of relaxation and stress relief. It is for that reason that younger children may not be the best candidates for a visit to an Owl Cafe. Loud noises and sudden movements that are characteristics of children are not tolerated well by the solitary species.
Now that you have some idea of where to go and what is expected, it is time to plan for your trip and enjoy a truly unique experience.