If you’re an animal lover or if you are still waiting for your letter from Hogwarts, you have likely wanted to hold an owl. Fortunately, in Japan, this is possible! Japan is known for its wide array of animal cafes, and recently owl cafes have been gaining popularity. While owl cafes have existed in Tokyo and Osaka for a few years now, Nagoya has only recently joined in on the trend.
‘Fukuro no iru mori Cafe’ (ふくろうのいる森カフェ) was opened last November close to the Shirakawa Park in the Sakae district. The building can be easy to miss, so keep a lookout for the owl sign. Reservations are not accepted, so after waiting for a table you will be seated and the system and rules will be explained for you, all in Japanese. Here’s how it works: you will be allowed to roam freely through the cafe for one hour. There is also a drink vending machine that you can use freely, but, of course, everyone is here for the owls.
When you’re ready to leave, you pay the 1300 fee, and only then are you are allowed to pick one owl to pose with. You can hold the big owls on your hand wearing a glove, but the small owls can perch on your hand, shoulder, or head – or even a combination of the three! I was allowed to have my owl sit on both my shoulder and my hand. This is the only time that you are allowed to touch or pet the owls, though you can take pictures of or with the other owls at any time. They also explain how you should pet the owls, and most of this is common sense: you can touch the back of their heads or their backs but be careful not to wave your fingers in front of their faces. This will be clearly demonstrated with gestures so it’s easy to understand even if you don’t speak Japanese.
The cafe is small, with only a handful of tables, and while this means longer waiting times, it also allows you to get a good look at the owls without being swarmed by people. The tables are arranged so that everyone is next to at least one owl; the small size also means that it is easy to get a good view of most of the owls from your table, but no one remained seated for long. The cafe itself is quite cute, with the owls perched on stands or in a tree instead of cages to give it a more natural vibe. Of course, the owls are attached to their perches with strings or ropes around their legs so they can’t fly more than a few inches away, but the vast majority of the owls were perfectly content with sitting there calmly.
At the time I visited there were about 11 owls of differing sizes and breeds, and the wall is decorated with pictures and information about the owls (all in Japanese, of course). They were all beautiful, and it was fascinating to see the various kinds of owls up close and personal, from the striking and rightfully famous snowy and barn owls to tiny owls barely bigger than your hand. There was even a baby owl, who was the only owl in an enclosure.
The staff was attentive, courteous, and clearly cared for the owls, who seemed perfectly fine with all of the attention (mine purred quite happily in my ear!). There is also a small display of owl themed goods you can buy, though, of course, the tables and the owls themselves take up the bulk of the cafe.
So how does it compare to other owl cafes? Unlike the cafes in Osaka and Tokyo, you can only really interact with the one owl you choose to hold and be photographed with. This is no doubt disappointing if you had hoped to pet or hold all of the owls like you can in many other cafes. However, while this may be less than ideal for the customer, it is likely better for the owls since it gives them a break from being handled and touched.
It was also much calmer than the one in Osaka at least, where everyone swarmed and rushed to the owls. When I visited ‘Fukuro no Mise’ in Osaka, I spent much of my time just waiting for my turn with the owls, or trying to get a look at an owl that someone else was holding but here, you can observe the owls at your leisure without worrying about lining up for your photo or trying to snap one before someone else requests to hold that owl. Despite the small size of the cafe, it never felt crowded, and it was easy to take pictures or bend down for a better look at the owls without worrying about being in someone’s way or vice versa.
You can also get around the no touching rule if you go with a friend; the staff had no problem allowing me to pet the owl my friend was holding. Be warned that some of the owls can only be held once or twice a day, and you may have to wait if you have your eye on a more popular owl, but you are given plenty of time for pictures and petting.
The cafe is open every day until 9.00 pm, opening at 12.00 pm on weekdays and 11.00 am on weekends and holidays. While you may have to wait in order to enter, it is well worth it for this unique (and adorable!) experience. A visit to this cafe is a must for any animal lover in the Nagoya area.
You can click here for more information.