Akiba Fukurou (Owl Paradise) in Tokyo
I’ve always wanted to visit the owl cafe in Japan ever since I came to know of this novelty.
In my trip to Japan with Koon last year, we planned to visit Fukuro No Mise (an owl cafe) because it has been highly raved about on the internet. Sadly the idea was diminished because of several factors;
- Their webpage is not user-friendly.
- Can’t make reservations. You’d have to be there personally, to queue and reserve a slot which could be hours later and there is no guarantee that you will get a slot anyway.
- The location is 40 minutes away from Tokyo Centre (i.e. Shinjuku / Shibuya) and that is considered VERY far if you think about Tokyo’s extensive and efficient subway network.
- We couldn’t find enough information online on the area (Tsukishima station) – in case we have to linger a few hours away before we can get into the cafe.
Most of the information were shared and found through travel blogs. Being our first trip to Japan, time was a crucial factor. So we decided to give it a miss. It stayed quietly in our itinerary since then.
Come this year, we finally had the chance as we were fortunate enough to plan a 5d4n trip to Japan in the last week of January. I researched online and found a relatively new review on Akiba Fukurou – a seemingly new owl cafe – and I cannot be any happier! Their webpage is SO user-friendly, they accept reservations and the process of making a reservation is so easy!
We fixed our appointment on a Saturday afternoon but due to some changes in our itinerary, we had to bring it forward by a day i.e. Friday. We emailed them on the day itself and we got their reply within an hour. That was some great responsiveness!
Getting to Akiba Fukurou is pretty easy. Follow the guide here.
We were greeted by a white, clean and simple exterior of the shop. We had to wait outside until the ongoing session ends. The cost of the entrance fee – 1,500 yen/pax (SGD 18 / USD 12) for 1 session (1 hour) – was collected upfront. There is a designated area where we are supposed to drop our bags and jackets. And visitors are to sanitise their hands before being ushered to the sitting area. I was so intrigued by the environment when I stepped in. The owls were perched on their ‘stands’, so unbelievably tamed. It was so quiet that we almost had to walk on our toes. And we had to whisper to one another.
I always had the perception that this was an owl cafe that serves food and drinks. It was only on that day that we realise this isn't a cafe but rather, a place which they call it an ‘owl paradise’. It’s not a cafe-cafe, but a cafe-like setting where you get to interact with owls. No hard feelings on this one because both Koon and I enjoyed our time very much there and whether or not we were served drinks would not make a difference.
On top of the laminated guide placed on every table, the staff also gave a very swift & informative introduction to highlight the things we should look out for e.g. the sticker signs. He also guided us on the proper way to touch an owl. Basically you are to use your index finger to gently stroke the tip of the owl’s head.
The green sticker placed on the wall behind every owl represents their name. As for the sticker in pink, it denotes that the owls are ‘resting’ and visitors are neither allowed to touch nor pick them up. Each visitor is welcome to choose their favourite owls (up to 2) and have them perched on your wrist. Of course, one at a time.
Koon chose Charles Xavier, which is one of my favourite furballs.
I chose Bonito, a barn owl which was very active throughout the time it was with me. I was scared stiff when it aggressively made its way from my wrist to shoulder.
After choosing our favourite furball, we were ushered to a mini booth for a photograph by Akiba Fukurou. Bonito refused to look at the camera despite several attempts to make him (pardon my assumption on a 'he'. It just came naturally to me that Bonito is a male hahaha) turn around.
Then back to our seats where we get to have some free and easy time with the owls. It was not long before Bonito decided to poop on me. Koon was laughing his ass off.
This is Bonito.
Awww Mr Charles.
I chose a second furball – The Last Samurai – which is much smaller in size. It was a total sense of relief when Bonito (the aggressive one) was taken off me. The Last Samurai was sooooo much easier to handle >,<
Time passes so quickly while we were there! At the end of the session, we were gifted with a postcard which had our photograph framed and laminated in an Akiba Fukurou designed template. This came as a surprise to us!
What we like about Akiba Fukurou:
- I like the fact that they make the effort to re-create content on their webpage in English. Sometimes, Google Translate is just not enough.
- Location is great and easily accessible! Situated at Akihabara Station (Yamanote Line), it makes it easy for anyone to access as long as you’re staying in the city centre (which most tourists do).
- Clean, cosy and organised. The place is so clean that it doesn’t seem to house owls! Very different from what you see in those bird-shop in Singapore.
- Laminated photo postcard is free of charge. And in my opinion, a photograph makes the best gift. You know that feeling when you’re asked to take non-obligated photographs at a major tourist attraction, then to find out that ONE photograph could cost easily SGD 15 (~USD 10)?
- They will send you a soft copy of the photo through email almost IMMEDIATELY. I received mine within 5 minutes after the session. No doubt on their efficiency, really.
- We were offered heat warmers before we bid goodbye to the owl paradise and we thought that was a very kind gesture from them. It was a 6° C rainy afternoon.
I know it’s only right to start another section on What we don’t like about Akiba Fukurou to make it an unbiased review but honestly… I can’t think of any content for that. It’s not perfect for sure but there’s nothing to loathe either.
Our first selfie with the furball
my favourite picture - too cute and so unreal >,<
Tips & things to note:
- Check out their available slots here prior to making a reservation.
- Reservation is a MUST as it seems like their slots are always sold out. All you have to do is to follow their reservation template and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your reservation is fixed only when you receive a confirmation email from them.
- They accept reservations 20 minutes up to 3 days before. For instance, if you want to book a slot on the 10th, you can only send in your reservation email on the 7th (00:00hrs).
- Be on time – you don’t want to lessen your interaction with them furballs!
- Babies & children (below 3) are not allowed to enter – our furry friends need a peaceful environment!
- No selfie sticks, outside food & drinks.
- Photos are allowed, no flash & video.