We’ve heard of dog, cat and bunny cafes, but let’s go for a bit off-beaten cafe and talk of owls. Sure, they’re nocturnal creatures, but there are owl themed café’s in the bustling district in Tokyo where you can pet, feed and watch them sleep. One cozy place where you can interact with owls is at Owl Park Café in Ikebukuro. Having dozen owls and even hedgehogs at the corner of the room, you will be assisted by the caretakers to pet and have a picture taken with them.
OWL PARK CAFÉ IN IKEBUKURO
My experience with this café is very memorable, aside from venturing alone in Ikebukuro, I was so much ready for the summer heat, only to experience the cold beginning of the autumn season’s rain. In fact, I was literally the only person walking in the district with thin sleeveless clothing, shivering alone with a camera hanging on my neck. Always check the weather forecast whenever and wherever you are planning to go in Japan, and dress for the season!
Owl Park Café is only a few minute walk from Ikebukuro station's west exit. Finding the place alone may be a bit confusing especially since Ikebukuro is a really huge station with multiple exits, it’s even the size of a mall!
The entrance of Owl Park Cafe is small, but the place has a homey feeling and a kind caretaker will guide you along. Do remember that before you pay the fee, the caretakers will show you a list of their rules on how to handle their beloved owls. I asked how many hours or minutes I can stay in the café, and was I glad to find that they don’t have any set of time limit! So I stayed as long as I wanted at their place~
This is an owl themed café yet they do not serve foods or beverages. BUT you are allowed to bring your own food and roam anywhere around the room to mingle with the owls as you’d like. As long as you follow their rule everything’s fine, let us respect the owls first. They have a dozen owl in different breeds and varieties, ranging from little ones to huge long-eared owls. There’s even a 6 month old baby owl that the other customers call chibi-chan or in English ‘little one’.
Owl Park is an owl and hedgehog café, though the main highlights are of course, the cute owls.
ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO AT OWL PARK CAFE
Inside the café, you can freely interact with the owls. You can hold or pet them, sometimes they bite back, but their beaks aren’t sharp that it will hurt you. Feeding them is also allowed. You can buy owl food at the café and you can feed them straight where they are sitting at. Having them fly to catch food is also possible. When I was at the café, the caretakers showed us how they feed the owls, all customers were watching and amazed, we were all at awe.
Two of the barn owls fly freely in the room, and boy do they love to fly on my shoulders. Once, they were sitting atop the entrance door while I was talking on the phone when suddenly one of them suddenly climbed onto my shoulders. The caretaker repeatedly said sorry to me, but all is well, the owl is cute, they can climb on my shoulders and peck at my shirt as long as they want. They were so freaking cute that you can easily forgive them for what they will or would do to you.
If you are coming in solo just like I did, the café personnel are kind enough to assist and talk to you about the owls. They’ll also ask if you want a picture taken with the hedgehogs or the owls.
Feeding, petting, playing and holding them are fine. You can also take selfies with the cute bunch, since they are nocturnal creatures, most of them are sleepy. Some just does not want anything to do with you that they fly atop high objects so they won’t be disturbed.
MEET THE MUNCHKINS
One owl whose name got stuck in my head is that of Benji. The caretaker was calling him multiple times to come down but he just won’t listen. Benji is one of the big shy ones, and he is one who 'does not like to be touched'.
These are the three sleepy heads at the corner of the room. I somehow felt bad for them, they should be really resting during daylight. I wonder how the café take care of their natural needs.. The one on the right, I call him or her 'the guardian'. This munchkin just won't budge where the hedgehogs are. The middle one I just call him 'the Elder'. Because he looks like one and he's just atop the room silently looking at us all. The munchkin on the right I call him the 'sleepy right hand owl'.
It's just me naming them 'cause I really don't know what to call them.
There are two little ones that are on teacup bowls. They prefer sitting on the arms of other customers. Don’t know how they made the owls sit on their arms, but I was really jealous. When I sit beside them they just ignore me, just like air around them. *sob
Meet the playful duo or aka the 'mischievous duo', is what I want to cal them. They are the only two allowed to fly freely. They love sitting on shoulders and biting your shirt. Once they stare at you, get ready for them to land on your shoulders. Aren’t they too cute? Though sometimes the caretakers also let the others free so they can shake their feathers out.
Three big owls reside in the café, I talked about Benji and here are the other two. The gray one you can pet, but after a while it was also sleepy. I did not bother him more than I want to but I just took lots of picture with him/her before letting it be.
The largest one is this brown owl, which I also forgot what type he is. The largest of the munchkins, bigger than a chicken with the cutest long feather ears. He's the most photogenic of them all for me aka the 'photogenic guy'.
Who’s the shyest of them all? This barn owl is. This is one of the owls that the caretaker said hates taking a picture of it, I saw him/her looking at my camera and hid away from me. Didn’t want to frighten this guy so I hid my camera and took a shot from afar. I just hope this guy don’t get too stressed with the people coming in and out.
A large heart-shaped rail takes the spotlight inside the cafe where two other owls sit. The one on the left keeps on trying to fly, but he’s tied up on its perch. Its partner is just too drowsy to bother with the others, which again I feel sorry. Coming here is a bit contradicting for me, I do love animals, but I also want to make sure these owls get the proper care they need.
At the corner of the room are the hedgehogs, if you want to pet a hedgehog they will assist you inside. You’ll have to wear gloves as they might also poop on you. They did on me. yep! It's the size of a peanut by the way.
I’m also glad that the other customers respect the other sleeping owls and don’t force to interact with them.
THE OWL PARK CAFE
HOW TO GET HERE:
The best point to track its location is to come out from the west exit of Ikebukuro station. You can get there with just a short walk away. I recommend getting a wi-fi rental in Japan so you can navigate your location via GPS in google maps. Owl Park Café's location is on the 2nd floor of this building. Climb upstairs and you will see an owl decal on the wall leading you to the café entrance.
For an affordable fee of Y1200, you can have an unlimited time of interaction with the adorable owls and the hedgehogs.
- Adults: Y1200
- Children: Y1000
OPENING AND CLOSING HOURS:
Owl Park Café is open from 11:00 am – 8:00pm
The owls rest on Holidays and every Wednesdays and Thursdays of the week.
As I mentioned, coming to an owl café was both exciting and sad, a bit contradictory I know. Interacting with these adorable creatures is a unique experience, though the freedom they should have, questions me. Observing these animals, they were all sleepy, even the hedgehogs, which takes me back to my inner thoughts.. are they even resting properly? Shuffling our places with them, if we are those creatures, having a lot of customers petting us daily and hourly is stressful. This blog post is not to purely promote these cafes, but to question if this is even appropriate for the animals' welfare.
YOU INTERESTED AT OWLS?
Are you also an Animal lover?
There are quite a few pet themed cafes in Tokyo, there’s even a penguin bar and a snake café. Truthfully, I am not a fan of the zoo, I just hope they take proper care of these wild animals and their natural needs.
- What themed café interests you or are planning to visit in Japan?
- The next time I might go to a dog café just to satisfy my craving for a doggy hug~