Forget cat cafes. Or dog cafes. Or even cuddle cafes. Japan’s new rage is on owl cafes, where diners can hang out with these round-eyed balls of fluff while sipping on a cup of joe. Starting late last year, owl cafes have been gaining popularity with more and more shops sprouting all over Japan.
In an owl cafe, customers get to dine alongside an actual strigiform. Petting is allowed but under a very strict set of guidelines, such as don’t touch the owls unless with a staff member, disinfect your hands before and after touching an owl, and don’t use your camera flash. While the owls are undeniably cute, they are generally not accustomed to hanging out with humans, so safety measures are followed. Most shops are run by wildlife experts so customers need not to be too wary about getting slashed by an unruly bird’s razor-sharp talons.
Owl cafes differ in their features. Some not only house the live birds, but also snakes, which are the natural prey of owls (customers can even ‘play’ with the snakes). Some shops also provide serious owl fans advice and necessary equipment to take home one of the birds. Most of the shops, however, are less bizarre and simply sell owl-themed snacks, shirts, and other goods beside their fascinating live avian displays.