“… fukuro, the symbol of the owl is a lucky charm to welcome good fortune. The word fukuro is also synonym for “fukurou” in Japanese which means protection from hardship or a lack of hardship or trouble. “Fu” meaning no, and “kurou” meaning hardship.”
I loved animals ever since I could remember. Call it the influence of Western culture where I see friendly talking animals but all my life, I’ve never been afraid of animals. So when during my research for my Tokyo trip I found out that there was an owl cafe, I knew I had to go there. I MUST GO THERE. I love fowls and birds. My family has around 5 parrots and has experience raising quite a few birds already but I’ve never held an owl before.
Good thing my friend wasn’t creeped out by these gentle big-eyed wonder so WOOT WOOT, we were going to Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe. Akiba because it is located right in Akihabara district (which is turning out to be my almost favorite place in Tokyo. I just LOVE this place).
Sure it may have that cafe word attached to its name but trust me when I say that they offer no food or drink here. What Akiba Fukurou offers instead is food for the soul. Who knew that spending quality time with around 30 owls can give you such tranquility and peace? With only classical music playing and the gentle voices of the owl trainers and owners, you just can’t help but sit back and relax with the owls.
But there are guidelines and rules to follow. You cannot just fondle or yell at the birds. You also have to respect them and your fellow “owl-mates”. Even reserving a coveted spot in the owl cafe is already a battlefield so I’d like to make things easier for you. Entrance fee is 1,500 yen by the way so bring cash. Presenting…
THE PANDIE EXPLORER’S GUIDE TO AKIBA FUKUROU OWL CAFE
1. Reserve a spot via E-mail (TIP: USE BOOMERANG FEATURE IN GMAIL)
Before you go reserving, first check out their closed off dates here. They open at 12 noon then close at around 6-7PM with breaks in between so definitely go check out that link first before sending an email.
Akiba Fukurou only accepts reservations 20 minutes to 3 days before your arrival so no early reservations and no late reservations but in my experience, you have to reserve 3 DAYS IN ADVANCE so you can ensure a slot (so for example you wanna go on January 4, 2016, send an email on January 1, 12AM, STAT! How do you do this in your busy day?
It is a Chrome/Firefox browser extension that lets you send scheduled e-mails. You can use this for reminders, reservations and a lot of things. Be creative with it but for now, we use it for scheduling at Akiba Fukurou. Check screenshot below.
Image from talktogamer.com
Use this e-mail template with subject title【Reservation♥request】 (yes include that heart) to firstname.lastname@example.org
・1st choice《Date/Sample Time/ 17:00-18:00》
・2nd choice《Date/Sample Time/ 12:00-13:00》
・3rd choice《Date/Sample Time/ 16:00-17:00》
・Is this your first visit? 《Yes/No》
・Your country’s name 《Country》
If you follow this post exactly, you will then receive a confirmation email from Akiba in a matter of hours! This email will give you details of the map and owls.
2. Go to Akiba Fukurou Cafe (Do not Get Lost!)
Akiba provides a comprehensive guide and map in ths link complete with photos so please do save it. Go there 15 minutes early to not be too early or too late but you may go earlier. This is what the cafe looks like from the outside except there will be stools there for people who are waiting in line. You can sit and if it’s almost your turn, one of the staff will give you a “menu” of owl care and what to do and not to do.
3. HANDLE OWLS WITH CARE (strictly for an hour)
Once inside, do not be shocked if you find an owl just 5 feet away from you. There will be clothes rack and honest to goodness I almost jumped when I realized there were owls right beside it. You will enter into the owl room at once and you will take some time to get used to it, unless you’re the owl whisperer. xD It’s a small place so you will feel a bit crowded with the other folks. Your hands will be sanitised and the staff will explain which owls are on break and which ones can be held. Green means GO while pink means NO, the owl is on a break. Purple one I think means you need assistance with staff. Just remember that, NO PETTING THE OWL. It is not like a dog or cat that you should pet on the head happily. A gentle tap with your finger is allowed (though maybe I added 2 more fingers LOL if you’re brave).
The Akiba Owl Family!
TIP: CHOOSE YOUR SPECIFIC OWL EARLY ON SO YOU GET FIRST DIBS. I didn’t decide early so some got the owls I initially wanted first but no biggie. You choose 2 owls MAX.
If you choose a large owl like me (I got the biggest one! Spring Onion’s his name), you won’t be able to walk around much because he only stays in one particular side of the room and he’s best friends with a specific owl. It bummed me quite a bit but I got to hang around with Spring Onion for a good 10 minutes. You could tell he was perplexed at me, the human. haha! Such an adorable owl!
I also got Charles Xavier because… yeah I’m a Marvel fan and I wanted to hold a nocturnal owl. Did you know that not all owls are nocturnals? That was a huge revelation for me. Owls with black eyeballs are nocturnal to absorb the light better I guess while those like Spring Onion with yellow tinge in the eyes are active in daytime. AWESOME LEARNING FOR THE DAY.
MORE PHOTOS! These creatures are so smart and curious!
Izzy’s cute little owl!
You can have your photo taken as the staff has set up a professional booth and they’ll give you a photo for free via email! They’re honestly so kind.
4. LEAVE FEELING YOUR MOST RELAXED SELF IN YOUR TRIP
I left feeling reenergized after all that hustling and bustling in Tokyo. I honestly wanted another hour in there but I only had limited time. I wish I could have held a smaller owl like my friend Izzy so you could go around the room and you can actually pet more. HAHA!
I definitely recommend going to Akiba Fukurou if you have the time in your Tokyo trip. It’s definitely a unique and interesting trip that you’ll be dying to go again in your next one.