*Temporarily closed until February 7 2021
While cat cafés remain the standard inner-city version of a petting farm for adults, establishments housing a variety of other animals have popped up around Tokyo over the past couple of years. Shibuya has a goat café, Daikanyama has one for dogs, and in the small suburb of Kokubunji, Fukurou Sabou allows you to relax with a coffee in one hand and an owl perched on the other.
The space inside Fukurou Sabou is small, with three tables of four cosily accommodating small groups and dates beside each other. There’s a friendly atmosphere held together by a sense of collective appreciation; excited chatter and laughter between tables is punctuated by moments of hushed silence each time a new owl is brought in.
One menu is used to order your mandatory drink, another to order your owl. Most drinks are ¥500 and owls range from ¥300 to ¥1,000, based on how rare they are rather than size or popularity. Though we have ethical concerns about keeping nocturnal animals awake during daytime hours, the issue is mitigated to some degree by the owner’s fondness for his birds and the fact that they are ensured rests. When we selected the smallest (and no doubt most popular) owl we were told that his ‘shift’ was over and asked to choose another.
The owl interactions themselves last about five minutes, split into two parts. First customers put on a falconry glove and the owl is perched on their hand then, after a dozen or so owl selfies have been taken, a towel is laid on the customer’s shoulder and the bird placed there in a way that gives them the appearance of an eccentric pirate. Most of the birds remained still and unperturbed by the attention but one gently chewed any fingers and ears within nibbling vicinity, and the crowd-pleasing little one would indicate the part of its neck you were required to scratch by leaning its head into position.
More photos on the Time Out Tokyo blog.