Owl Cafe, Japan

Whelp, it’s taken a lot to get to this point! And by that I mean, it’s taken weeks of working from home to not cringe at my laptop sitting on the kitchen table – IE. my new pseudo office! Blogging has now taken on a new form, which feels achingly familiar to my work day. And frankly, it’s a scene I would like to avoid unless I am actively logging work hours. My kitchen table used to be a safe space, where I could light a candle and jot down thoughts or share travel photos here on Amsterdam & Beyond. But now, with our office closed and Dutch lockdown in full effect, it’s my 24/7 work view. These days, I prefer to fill my free time with a change of scenery – books, games, walks, wine . . . and very little screen help me leave the workday behind, despite operating in the same small space almost all of the time.That said, I miss reminiscing on past travels, an activity that – with flights grounded and boarders closed – now feels warranted more than ever. So, here we are, together apart, in the same way as always but in a whole new world. I’m no longer writing from just my kitchen table, I’m writing from my work desk, and a whole lot of other change has happened in the meantime as well. But let’s park the COVID chat and pull up to a topic that’s much more jovial: OWLS.Owls are my favorite animal. They are smart, majestic creatures of the night with wise eyes and an elegant body form. They are said to be good luck in many cultures, and thankfully they are just as celebrated in Japan as they are in the western world!So, how did Amie and I wind up snuggling some new owl friends in Tokyo? (Which sounds like a very random Japanese activity indeed!)As the most populated city in the world, many homes in Tokyo are quite small. Features like large patios and adequate closet space are very costly and hard to come by. And so as you can imagine, having a pet in Tokyo is not an option for many city dwellers. However, in Japan there’s a smart and orderly solution for just about everything (from heated vending machines to heated toilet seats) and this small-space animal conundrum is no exception. Instead of trying to squeeze a pet in an insanely cramped city apartment, you can visit an animal cafe, where you will find refreshing beverages and plenty of animals to keep you company!! Animal cafes are literally pet share spots where you can get your animal fix without cohabitation. In Tokyo you will find cat cafes, puppy cafes, hedgehog cafes . . . penguins, bunnies, birds . . . you name it, they probably have it!! So you can only imagine my complete and utter delight in discovering an OWL cafe in Harajuku.Amie and I had planned to spend the day exploring Harajuku, but as I mentioned in my last post, it was raining and the sea of sharp umbrellas along Takeshita Street felt quite deadly, so we grabbed a coffee and then headed over to the Owl Cafe & Bar instead for a drink and a meet and greet with my all time favorite animal!This was our delicious pre owl cafe coffee stop.When we arrived at the owl cafe, we took off our shoes (as is custom at many places in Japan), paid a small fee for the entrance, and picked out a beverage that was included in the price. We also paid a little bit more for a small dish of meat, which we would be allowed to feed the owls. There were about four other people in the cafe, who were just finishing up in the owl room. So we hung out at a low, seated table while they finished up, and were then welcomed into a small glass room at the end of the cafe where the owls lived. Akak heaven!First, we were given a short safety speech and introduced to all of the owls. We learned their names, the species, and who we absolutely should not touch. Then, we were invited to pet and hold some of the more friendly owls.
This barn owl was my favorite, and so I gleefully requested to hold her!I think we got on rather well! We were also given the opportunity to feel some of the smaller owls, and were provided small dishes with tweezers so we could carefully hand over small meat snacks to our owl friends.Who, after this part of the encounter, became much more interested in our presence!The last dinner trick (or post dinner trick, I guess!) was the old swoop and land. The trainer would gave the owl a signal, and the owl would then fly over and land on one of our arms. Amie volunteered to go first.She fed her pal a little snack, and then it was my turn! Frankly, I was a bit panicky and scared (um, owls are BIG when their wings are spread!!) but went for it all the same.Once his wings were closed and his belly full, this owl seemed a lot less scary :)After our brief encounter, I did a quick dip of my arm, and off he went back to his small owl podium.As much as I hate the idea of wild animals living in captivity, I have to say, I really enjoyed visiting the owl cafe. I’ve never been that close to an owl, and I loved the opportunity to feel their soft feathers, see how they eat, and watch them move up close. Just don’t touch this guy!!Hopefully I am over my blogging hump and can bring you more Japan adventures soon. It’s crazy to think there are no more adventures in the works!! Who knows, maybe this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to get all caught up on my blog content :)

Owl catch you later!!

xo Ali

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