TRAVEL: Owl cafe's unique company a real hoot
TAKE a seat at a Tokyo cafe and the chair next to you might be occupied by a rabbit, snake, goat, cat, dog or even an owl.
The chance to get up close and personal with a variety of animals is one of the many attractions of visiting Japan. The weirder the better does it for me, so I headed off to a cafe where there are as many owls as there are people.
Akiba Fukurou is a popular spot to visit and visitors book ahead and then line up outside waiting for their hour of owl.
Although it's widely known as a cafe and looks like a cafe, it doesn't actually serve food or drink. The owner of Akiba Fukurou prefers to call it a relaxation space where visitors can interact with the owls.
Once inside, guests take a seat and have the chance to meet the resident owls.
There are about 20 owls ranging in size from petite to quite large. They don't seem terribly bothered by the people around them and some just chose to nap the hour away.
Guests are instructed not to disturb sleeping owls or those with signs that say "Please don't touch", but it's fine to touch the others. Stroking the owl's head, between the eyes, is recommended and seems to be quite enjoyed by the creatures.
After a while, the owner comes around and places an owl on your arm if you want to get a little closer. I had some one-on-one time with Snowman who was happy to sit quietly and have his photo taken.
Not everyone was so lucky. Some of the owls couldn't settle and others left little messages on their human friend's clothing.
The owls are all rescue birds and have been collected by the owner over a long period.
Although we were lucky and picked up a cancellation on short notice, you'll need to book ahead to visit.
The cafe is a short walk from JR Akihabara Station and there are good instructions on the website to guide you there.
It costs 1500 yen per person for a one-hour visit and take cash, they don't accept credit cards.