With the highly anticipated Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Japan having just opened this week to great fanfare, owls seem to be the hot “animal of the hour” at the moment in Japan. (Plus, we think owls are pretty cool-looking birds to begin with even without the Harry Potter factor!) In that spirit, one of the reporters from our sister site Pouch recently visited a bird cafe in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, where you can interact with numerous species of owls, yes, but also parakeets and even some falcons as well! Since we’d already had such an awesome time at the owl cafe in Tsukishima, we knew we were going to thoroughly enjoy this visit too. And you can’t really blame us for wanting to share our photos of all the cute owls with you, can you? If you’ve ever been fascinated by owls, we think you’ll be impressed at how up-close and personal you can get with the birds once you’ve seen the pictures!


Bird cafes have actually been receiving a good deal of attention on the Japanese media recently, many of them attracting significant crowds on weekends. The bird cafe that we visited was the Asakusa shop of Tori no Iru Cafe (literally, The Cafe Where There Are Birds), one of the two bird cafes operated by the company Tori Cafe. Now, many bird cafes keep their birds inside a glass cage, or they’re forced to cover the food and drinks they serve with plastic wrap, due to sanitary considerations, but at this bird cafe, the focus is all on the birds — they’ve adopted the policy of serving as little food and drinks as possible so that they can allow the more than 60 birds at the cafe to interact freely with customers. And just how much does it cost to spend time with the feathered beauties? The standard rate at Tori no Iru Cafe is 1,500 yen (US$14.80) for the first hour and 300 yen ($2.95) for each additional 15 minutes. But if you’re only planning to stay a short while, you also have the option for a 30 minute session for 1,000 yen ($9.85). The first owls that caught our reporter’s eye upon entering the cafe were three baby Barn Owls, only five weeks old. Okay, you’ve already captured our hearts!

▼The baby Barn Owls were looking around shaking their heads, as if they were intrigued by everything surrounding them. And of course, their fluffy white feathers and large black eyes were devastatingly cute! IMGP4025

Now, after seeing such cuties, we could certainly understand if people fell in love with the birds and decided they wanted one for themselves. And at this bird cafe, you can do exactly that! There are typically 20 individual birds representing 12 species at the cafe on any given day, and if you happen to find your “winged soul-mate” among them, you can purchase him or her to take home with you, provided the bird is more than one month old. But they don’t exactly come cheap — while there are some available from around 150,000 yen ($1,477.50),  the more expensive individuals, depending on not just the species but also characteristics like the coloring of their face as well, can cost upwards of 1 million yen ($9,847)!

▼Pictures posted on the wall indicate the species of the bird and their price — 800,000 yen ($7,877.50) for the Black Banded owl and 250,000 yen ($2,461.75) for the Little Owl in this case.IMGP4124

As you might expect, we were soon captivated by the feathered residents of the bird cafe. Some of them seem to be deep in sleep, completely oblivious to all the guests. Others seemed particularly fascinated with the camera our reporter was carrying. We had a chance to speak with Tori Cafe president Ryusuke Akedo, who told us, “They have a personality a bit like a cat’s. They act cool and aloof much of the time, but when it’s time to be fed, they can suddenly be really sweet. It’s quite cute, actually.”

Now it was time for our reporter to try to pet the birds. We gently reached out to one of the younger owls and patted it on its head. Wow, the baby feathers were really soft! And as we petted it, the bird soon closed its eyes in what looked like an expression of bliss. We were surprised by how quick and obvious the reaction was.

Apparently, owls in general like to be petted on the back of their heads, although there were exceptions and some of the birds made it clear they didn’t want to be petted by sometimes snapping at our reporter’s fingers. But even that reaction was cute to watch!

▼And if you want to do a little more than just pet the birds, they have special gloves you can put on for the birds to rest on your arm.  Cool!imgp4080k

▼Ahhh … just look at that blissful expression! IMGP4118

▼This is the Rock Eagle Owl, a beauty that comes with a 1 million yen price tag. The shiny golden eyes are wonderfully captivating.IMGP4121

▼The two owls on the right are both Rock Eagle Owls. IMGP4096

▼They may look soft and feathery, but their claws remind us that they are predators high up in the food chain.IMGP4045

▼Hey, can we pet you? Pretty please?IMGP4046

▼Our feathered friend tries to take a bite out of our reporter’s hand!IMGP4049

▼Wow, some magnificent wing action here!IMGP4112

▼Oh, you look so soft … we wish we could bury our face in your feathers!IMGP4053

▼Is that supposed to be a “Hey, leave me alone!” look?IMGP4055

▼You’re a cute little one, aren’t you?IMGP4032

▼Ohhh … you’re too sweet, we can’t help it — we’re gonna pet you!IMGP4033

▼Hmm … are you giving us a reprimanding look for touching your friend? IMGP4034

▼Here’s a fella with a serious piercing gaze.IMGP4067

▼These are young Pallid Scops Owls about 15cm to 22cm (5.9 in – 8.7 in) in height.IMGP4036

▼They remain about this size even when full-grown.IMGP4089

▼What pure and innocent looking eyes! We wish we could go back to having such eyes …IMGP4037

▼Is it okay if we touch you?IMGP4041

▼We guess the claws mean “No”.IMGP4042

▼This Black Banded Owl has a surprised wide-eyed look. IMGP4106

▼Apparently, it was curious about our reporter’s camera strap.IMGP4107

▼This fella here is a tiny guy. Just how tiny?IMGP4024

▼About as small as a 12 oz plastic bottle!imgp4120k

▼We’re  going to pet you for being so cute and small — and we love you for looking  so happy about it!IMGP4126

▼Now that our reporter has gotten hooked on owls, she says even regular owl ornaments in a shop look dear to her.IMGP4129

So, what did you think of the beautiful birds at Tori no Iru Cafe? Did you find yourself  fantasizing just a little about owning a bird of prey yourself? If the thought of having to feed frozen mice is a turnoff, Akedo says there are sausage type feeds on the market made especially for pet raptors, so you may not necessarily have to contend with handling dead rodents.

Owls certainly may not be the easiest pets to keep, but their popularity is apparently on the rise, their market prices having risen approximately 20 percent from last year. They actually seem to be particularly popular with working women living alone in their 30s and 40s, as they can be kept even in a relatively small apartment and don’t make too much noise if you choose the right type of owl. (So, now I guess I need to be careful of  becoming “the woman with the owl” instead of the “woman with the cat”!)

Well, it appears our reporter certainly enjoyed her time at the bird cafe, looking at all the owls with different personalities — some friendly, some cool and others just intent on sleeping. If you’re ever in the Asakusa area with a little time to spare, this may be a place you can visit for some cute winged company.

▼We’ll leave you with a video from the cafe. Enjoy!

Shop Details:
【Tori no Iru Cafe Asakusa Shop】
Address: 1-12-8 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, B1F Oyama Building
Tel: +81-3-6802-8572
Open:  1pm~8pm weekdays, 11am~8pm weekends and public holidays

Original article and photos by: Kon Inoue(c)Pouch
[ Read in Japanese ]