What a hoot: Tokyo Owl Cafe

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

What a hoot: Tokyo Owl Cafe

  |   34 Comments

Akiba Fukurou, Tokyo, Japan

I recommend booking in advance - click here for your language and currency

Eye to eye. Which of us is going to blink first? Probably me. It’s pretty silly to challenge an owl to a staring competition.

In a city like Tokyo, it should probably be no surprise that I find myself in this situation. With an owl named Negi perched on my arm, I try to act calm. It’s easier said than done, considering Negi did just try to eat Peanuts a few minutes ago. Peanuts is the name of one of the other owls here.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

By now, a lot of people have heard of the ‘cat cafes’ that began in Tokyo and have now spread around the world. They are places where people without pets can come for some animal interaction. Last time I was in town, I visited one and you can read about that cat cafe here.

But Tokyo is the kind of city that always needs something new. It has a reputation for being cutting edge and it never disappoints. One of the latest trends is the ‘owl cafe’ and it’s where I find myself one afternoon.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

You enter the small room off a busy street in the Akihabara district at your allotted timeslot. After a brief introduction in Japanese – no flash photography, no sudden movements, don’t squeeze the birds – you then have an hour to spend with the owls.

There are about twenty owls in the cafe, perched on bars throughout the room. Each has a name and with that, presumably, comes a personality. Some are small and sweet, others bigger and evil-looking with vibrant eyes that are constantly watching their surroundings. There are owls that seem sleepy and owls that seem more alert, owls that barely move and others with heads constantly bobbing.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

I’ve been told you can pat them but I’m hesitant. Apart from their sharp beaks, I’m worried the birds might not like it, but I follow the lead of the Japanese people in the room. So I approach one of the smaller owls and gingerly brush my fingers on the top of its head. It’s soft. Really soft. The owl just looks at me but doesn’t seem bothered by the attention. It starts to turn its head towards me and I quickly jerk my hand away in fear. I forgot I wasn’t supposed to make sudden movements.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

Some of the Japanese people in the room have jumped straight in and now have owls on their arms. The workers – dressed in waistcoats and hats – take the birds off their perches and put them lightly near the customers’ wrists. A small rope stops them flying off if they are in the mood for flight, which most don’t seem to be.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

It goes like this for an hour – patting, holding, looking. I don’t do much holding because I am still a bit nervous but I enjoy the looking and the occasional pat. I can’t tell whether the whole experience is supposed to be a novelty or whether it’s the kind of thing that people come back for repeatedly, which was the sense I got with the cat cafe.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

The owners of the Owl Cafe say it’s about relaxation. In a world where people can get easily stressed and have busy hectic lives, this is supposed to be a bit of an escape. “We think owls can heal our tired hearts like a therapy,” they say.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

The whole room is designed around this philosophy with soft lighting, drapes on the walls and mood music softly playing in the background. It’s certainly a more mellow environment than outside in Akihabara where neon, blaring sounds and bustling crowds fill the streets.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

So it’s about “healing entertainment” apparently and I can see that to a certain degree. For the humans, at least. I do wonder, though, whether it’s fair on the owls. When I ask about that, I’m told that all the birds are raised from birth and are treated like pets. Maybe they would prefer to be out flying free or maybe they’re happy with this life. In many ways, it’s no different to keeping a dog, a cat or a budgie as a pet.

owl cafe in tokyo, akiba fukurou, japan

Is that what Negi is thinking about as we stare at each other? Is he wondering why I’m here at all? I guess I may never know. I blink first and the staring competition is over. My hour is up and I leave the mellow dim room and the owls behind, back onto the Tokyo streets.

Where is this Tokyo Owl Cafe?

The Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe is located at:
67 Kanda Neribeichō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to, 101-0022, Japan
You can see it on a map here.
When is the Owl Cafe open?
The cafe is open at different times each day – normally from about 1100 until either 1800 or 2000, though. It’s important to check the website (below) in advance.

How much does the Owl Cafe cost?

One hour at the Owl Cafe costs 1500 yen, payable only in cash.
How to get to the Owl Cafe
To get to the Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe, catch the train to Akihabara. From there, it’s just a short 5 minute walk (and I suggest you use a map) to 67 Kanda Neribeicho. The owl cafe is on the ground floor in a small quiet street. You’ll recognise it because it will have some photos of the owls on the window outside.
Top tip
You need to reserve a spot in advance to be sure you’ll be able to get in when you want. (You can turn up and try your luck, but it’s not advisable because it is pretty popular). I recommend using the link below – especially if you can’t speak Japanese.

Book here

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Japan National Tourism Organisation but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

34 Comments
  • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer | Feb 9, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I too was wondering whether or not the owls would want to be out flying free in the wild, but thinking about the context of them being raised like cats and dogs, maybe they are fine being pets.

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 21, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Yeah, I hope so. They are certainly well looked after.

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Feb 11, 2015 at 6:33 am

    An owl cafe? What a fascinating concept, and such gorgeous birds, too.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..BELIZE: Green Iguana Conservation Project [VIDEO]My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 21, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      My gosh – the birds were so gorgeous! I don’t think I’ve really seen owls up this close before but they’re stunning animals. And so wise-looking too!! 🙂

  • Deb | Feb 13, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Well balanced article showing the experience while worrying about the well being of the owls. I agree, it’s difficult to know, but to hear that they are raised this way does make it easier. To capture them and then put them in a zoo is not acceptable, but raising from birth and treated like pets, might not be so bad. I eat meat, I ride horses and I had a cat and a dog. So what can I say. Humans rule the world and the owls aren’t abused. they’re definitely seeing a lot of love. 🙂
    Deb recently posted..The 8 Most Romantic Cities on EarthMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 21, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      That’s exactly the conclusion I came to as well. The initial response is to assume they would rather be off flying through the woods… but couldn’t the same be said for cats and dogs (well, not the flying bit, but y’know…). I should also mention that they had signs not to touch the birds which had already had a lot of attention during the day and they rotate the signs around so they each get a rest.

  • Tracy | Mar 20, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Do they sell food or is it purely a cafe just for looking/patting the owls?

    • Michael Turtle | Mar 21, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      There’s no food – just owls. You get a free soft drink but everyone is too focused on the animals to get anything else, it seems!

  • Isabela Fuentebella | Apr 3, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Hi Michael, I was wondering if you could help me with directions? I’ll be in Japan next week with family and my nephew and niece loves Harry Potter hence I think they would love to visit this owl cafe. We’ll be staying 1/3 Akihabara service apartments so coming from Akihabara station, how do we proceed? Thanks!

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 12, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Isabela. I hope I’m not too late with the directions. If you look at the info box at the bottom of the post, you’ll see a link to the location on Google Maps. If you then put in your address, you’ll be able to get exact directions. Good luck!

  • Japan Goals: Realistically Revisited | | Oct 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    […] Owl cafe […]

  • Yumi Nakata | Nov 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Great article. Thank you for sharing you in-depth experience at the Fukuro no Mise. I recently went to the Fukuro no something..I don’t even remember but it was different from the cafe setting. It is in Kamakura and the entry charge was 600 yen and they didn’t have specific time assigned to each guest. We saw at least seven owls and one of them was very large and another one was the same kind, which appeared in Harry Potter movie series. So I got very excited. I am still not sure if Owls in captivity are actually happy , given that they are not very social. They don’t really like to be touched..that’s what I learned at least but I can’t help wanting the small one!

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 14, 2015 at 7:55 am

      Thanks for the info. I hadn’t heard of the one you’re talking about but it doesn’t surprise me that there are a few other places like this in Tokyo. Once something becomes popular, the same thing pops up all over!
      I agree with you about wanting an owl after visiting the cafe – if only they enjoyed hanging out with humans a bit more! 🙂

  • Marja Kokkonen | Jan 12, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Thank You for writing about this experience. It sounds interesting and by one way exotic.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 17, 2016 at 3:43 am

      ‘Exotic’ is a good way to put it. It’s certainly an odd experience that I think is quite unique to Japan.

  • Um café e uma coruja – Hey Nuts! | Feb 10, 2016 at 3:12 am

    […] um resumo bem fofo de como é uma visita a esse lugar. Antes de realmente ter contato com elas, você é orientado a […]

  • Japan | Hales Takes on Asia | Feb 14, 2016 at 8:11 am

    […] Owl Cafe (you can read more about it and book reservations online here) We waited outside for like 20 min not knowing what to expect- I assumed it was a normal cafe where you order drinks and hang out with owls. Upon entering it was a very small place and very quiet. Owls lined the walls on perches and most of them were sleeping. There were no drinks but we got 1-2 hours to hang out and hold the owls. A very rewarding experience since in Japan owls are looked highly upon for good fortune.  […]

  • Tiff K | Apr 8, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Thanks so much for your informative post! Hoping to catch a reservation next week when I get to Tokyo. 🙂

  • A Shameless Letter to My Father | siempre hay primavera | May 1, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    […] Gardens in Singapore! Or if you’re really impatient, we can hop over to Tokyo and visit the Owl Cafe there! As a last resort, I even found an Owl Shop in Malaysia, where you can buy all things […]

  • The Most Unusual Dining Spots You Can Visit in Tokyo | Jun 2, 2016 at 8:06 am

    […] Via timetravelturtle.com […]

  • shannen | Jun 26, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Hello! I like to ask, must we make a reservation before going to the cafe?

  • 6 Completely Bonkers Experiences Only Asia Can Provide – USIT Blog | Jul 22, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    […] which itself is jam packed full of neon oddities and cartoon robots is the world’s first ‘Owl Cafe’ where customers can pop in and for $12 spent an hour in the company of an impossibly soft and […]

  • Simone | Jul 30, 2016 at 5:47 am

    What is wrong with everyone? This is not okay! These birds are not okay.
    Owls don’t want to be touched.
    Owls don’t want to be tethered and restrained.
    Owls are a nocturnal and solitary species. Owls belong in be wild.
    If you can’t see what’s wrong with this then I worry for the wellbeing and welfare of all species on this planet.

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 6, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      I’m not sure it’s that simple. While I had reservations about this for the same reasons you do, speaking to the people who run the place, you can see how much they care for the birds. I agree – birds belong in the wild, but so do dogs and cats and they can be quite happy when they’re looked after as pets.

    • Robyn Bodey | Sep 27, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      I was heartened to read your response to this sad article. I despair of humans and their selfishness at times

      as no thought is given to wildlife and how this sort of existence affects them.

  • Cute and condemned to suffering: it’s time to ban the breeding of mutant cats - News blog | Sep 27, 2016 at 5:57 am

    […] this reason, many people find the appearance of owls pleasing to the eye, which is why they have owl cafes in Tokyo, and why so many people collect owl […]

  • Cute and condemned to suffering: it’s time to ban the breeding of mutant cats | Em News | Sep 27, 2016 at 6:27 am

    […] this reason, many people find the appearance of owls pleasing to the eye, which is why they have owl cafes in Tokyo, and why so many people collect owl […]

  • Robyn Bodey | Sep 27, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    It is with great sadness that I read this article about the “Tokyo Owl Cafe” where humans have set up “a bit of an escape” to “steal our tired hearts like a therapy” where they go to feel good when stroking captive owls. Owls were NOT naturally born to be tethered by a piece of rope to a post in a room with “soft lighting, drapes on the walls and mood music” and to be visited by throngs of humans with their different noises, smells and touches and tensions – For God’s sake humans!! This is so wrong!! Owls are nocturnal creatures who live in quiet and natural lighting in their natural environment!
    How sad to see the owls sitting in this environment – some hardly moving, some with eyes closed and some with heads constantly bobbing – a sure sign of captivity neurosis. One wonders if Negi attacked Peanuts due to pent up stress???
    Oh dear, poor owls!

  • Helena mcdonnell | Oct 10, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I do not see the difference between this and the chained up monkey and parrot on a street hawker’s shoulder..at least there, they are out in the open. How far can a society be dumbed down to not acknoledge another beings habitat or mannerisms.. we have done that to dogs and cats where there are some similarities to our environment, in that we now, can eat the same food, sleep in a bed, drink from a bowl etc but these animals are allowed freedom to wander at their own will. owls here are not allowed any freedom and are nocturnal, they really dont like loud noises either… so this is very wrong…please, please shut this place down and put these poor, lovely creatures in a better place preferably without human contact….

  • Peter Andreassen | Oct 25, 2016 at 2:20 am

    Anima and a lot of people dont like this treatment of Owls

  • Visiting Owl Cafe In Japan – Laughing Fluffy | Nov 16, 2016 at 5:01 am

    […] take a journey together~Want to know more information about this cafe, check their website: http://www.timetravelturtle.com/2015/02/tokyo-owl-cafe-akiba-fukurou/! Don’t forget to like this […]

  • Cute and condemned to suffering: it’s time to ban the breeding of mutant cats - Rent Blog | Nov 24, 2016 at 5:24 am

    […] this reason, many people find the appearance of owls pleasing to the eye, which is why they have owl cafes in Tokyo, and why so many people collect owl […]

  • David Hugh Alphonso | Apr 3, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    Would like to visit your cafe on 21st April ( Friday ) 1.30pm

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 4, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Hi David. If you’re interested in visiting the cafe, I would recommend using the links I have included in this article. Enjoy!

Post A Comment

CommentLuv badge