Swooping into a New Owl Cafe in Tokyo: Akihabara’s Owl no Mori
There's a new flock of hooters in town, and they are all perching in Akihabara's newest owl café, called "Owl no Mori" or "The Forest of Owls". As awesomely weird as the concept sounds, it’s not actually unusual to find an owl cafe in Tokyo. I headed to Akihabara to find out just what makes Owl no Mori a flight above the rest.
Although I often explore Akihabara on the weekends, I had never noticed Owl no Mori before; since it’s totally new, I guess it just flew under my radar. Up until now I’ve avoided going to owl cafes due to unreasonable prices and “too crowded” reports I read about on the Internet. However, when I grabbed a flier from the cute shop staff person standing outside, I squealed in delight: It costs only a 500yen+tax to enter, not including drinks starting from just 102yen! I was ready to step into the forest for my first owl cafe adventure.
Barn Owls, Soft drinks and Beer, Oh My!
Upon entering Owl no Mori, I immediately felt like I had entered a world apart from Tokyo. The ceiling, walls, and furniture were covered in natural green, bringing to mind an enchanted forest. Savoring the outdoorsy atmosphere, I made my way to the front desk where I paid my entrance fee and grabbed a drink at the vending machines in the waiting area.
For those craving more exotic fare to go along with the charming forest theme, fear not: In addition to a variety of soft drinks, you are welcome to order alcoholic beverages from the bar area. The signature drink is owl beer, but don’t worry—it isn’t made from actual owls!
Owls Rule the Roost in Owl no Mori
Mind your manners, humans: In Owl no Mori, owls rule the roost! Just before entering the main area with the owls, the staff sanitized my hands with an alcohol spray and quickly explained how to interact with and pet the owls. You will only be allowed to pet the owls’ heads, but the staff will allow you to hold one in your hand if you ask nicely. Be aware though, these owls are not potty trained, so if one happens to drop something on your arm or hands, don't fret. Walk back over to the sanitizing station and the staff will give you a cleaning wipe.
Pictures are allowed as long as the flash is turned off, but video footage is prohibited because it may be bothersome to the other visiting customers.
Inside the Owl Cafe
Owl no Mori isn’t just for owl-kind—while 10 of its 12 birds are owls, 2 are parrots. Besides the birds, there are also 4 piranhas and a variety of colorful fish in tanks. The cafe is like a zoo-pet store hybrid, because you can do more than just interact with the owls—you can even buy one, provided it has a price tag.
There is even a VIP area you can reserve if you call in advance! The area probably fits about three to four people; bring a group so you can say, “The gang’s owl here!” at least once in your life.
Pet Owl Obsession Turned Cafe: Behind Owl no Mori
After having the time of my life in this forest full of teeming wildlife, I was curious about what kind of people were running the place. So, I came back yet another time with many questions.
When I asked why they decided to open Owl no Mori, the owner told me that he had always been very fond of owls and had been keeping them as pets for more than 10 years. Since the pet owl industry in Japan is very closed, there had always been a barrier for general people. It had been the owner’s longtime dream to create a place where anyone can freely interact with owls and discover everything great about them.
Lots of people take care of dogs and cats starting in childhood, and there’s technically nothing to stop you from doing the same with owls. However, owls that are taken in after adulthood tend to be especially sensitive. You should always keep a certain distance with them, because they are very fragile. Each owl has a different character. They can be shy, aggressive, or sociable. With their sixth sense, they can also understand a person’s heart, so it is very important to raise them with a lot of love. The owls at Owl no Mori are medically examined each week due to their sensitivity. If an owl’s condition is not absolutely perfect, it is taken away to rest.
Since many people may misunderstand the proper care techniques for owls, the people at Owl no Mori are happy to provide support for other owl owners in the city. Knowing the owl’s feeding and sleeping habits along with maintaining their proper temperature is very important. I could definitely tell that Owl no Mori deeply cares for all owls, and I assume that a lot of time, attention and funding go into that. Given all the costs involved, and I really wanted to know why the cafe is so reasonably priced.
So why do they keep their low price services? Well, there are many other owl cafes and shops around town, but Owl no Mori is cut from Disneyland cloth—it wants to be loved by locals rather than just one-time visitors looking to cross owl-watching off their bucket lists. In other words, Owl no Mori wants to create a place for regulars. Although this is only my second time visiting, I am already beginning to feel at home. So if you love owls, forests and living things in general, I definitely encourage you to stop by! If you have already been here, you’ve discovered what I already know: That Owl no Mori isn’t just for the birds.
Thank you for reading my article on my experience at Owl no Mori! Come check out the Forest of Owls the next time you come to Akihabara! You can even take a selfie with the owls, but please don’t bring that ridiculous selfie stick you just purchased inside...
Owl no Mori’s
- Owl no Mori’s entrance fee is 500 yen + tax for adults and only 250yen for children up until elementary school. Soft drinks are available starting at 102 yen and alcoholic beverages are all 500 yen except for Owl Beer, which is 1000 yen.