What a hoot! Dine with owls in Tokyo and Osaka
5 November 2013
CAT cafes are so 2011. It's all about owl cafes now - the newest dining trend, with a number of quirky owl cafes now located in Tokyo and Osaka.
Cafe diners can hang out with owls at Japan's owl cafes. Picture: mariancraig, FlickrSource:Flickr
CAT cafes are so 2011. It's all about owl cafes now - the newest dining trend in Japan.
The concept is straight forward. In main cities many people live in small units and don't have enough space for pets. Cat cafes have proven popular with locals by providing that pet-owner intimacy otherwise unattainable to some. And now owl cafes are meant to offer a similar sort of experience - except that the owls can't be touched. In fact, the owls (like most owls) get scared easily so customers have to behave.
According to Tokyo Times owl cafes like Fukurou no Mise (Owl Shop) and Tori no Iru Cafe (The Cafe with Birds) began gaining popularity in Japan late last year and this summer saw more owl cafes open. Currently there are owl cafes like Fukurou Sabou (Owl Teahouse) in Tokyo, Owl Family in Osaka, and Crew, another owl cafe in Osaka, among others.
The complexity lies in the fact that humans and owls don't generally hang out together - so it's an unusual experience for both parties. Customers regularly have to line up at these owl cafes (too many people inside at one time will scare the owls) and once they are in there are a set of strict guidelines to follow, including rules like don't touch the owls unless with a staff member, disinfect your hands before and after touching an owl, don't use your camera flash and don't talk loudly.
According to some enthusiasts, the experience of drinking coffee alongside a wide-eye owl can be fun - and hey, some of the cafes even offer owl-themed snacks if you're too chicken to get close to the real thing.