There is no shortage of themed cafes in Tokyo. Basically whatever you’re into – whether it’s cats, subservient maids, prisons, hospitals – there’s a café to fulfill your wierdest fantasies. And if you happen to have a thing for owls, now there’s a themed café for owl enthusiasts too. Café Fukurou Sabo started after the owner, Mrs. Machida “met” Rai the owl while volunteering after the disastrous 2011 earthquake. She saw that owls somehow brought comfort to people devastated by the earthquake and wanted to bring that comfort to the stressed out citizens of Tokyo, so the first owl café was born, just on the outskirts of the city.
Although owls are mostly seen as creepy night creatures with a cold, hard stare, in reality they’re some of the nicest birds you’ll ever meet. After visitors finish eating or drinking, they are outfitted with a thick birding glove and allowed to choose from 15-20 owls of varying sizes, types and personalities. Or if you have visions of a barn owl pecking your eyes out, you can admire the birds safely from behind a glass window. But as shady as owls usually come off, the ones at Fukurou Sabo are pretty chill and seem to actually enjoy the attention from humans. And once the initial concern about bird poop and pecked eyeballs goes away, you come to realize that owls are very gentle creatures that have a calming effect. In fact, many men and women in uniform and caretakers of those with mental disabilities and physical handicaps visit the café for stress relief and comfort.
There are several owl cafes in Tokyo proper but the suburbs of Kokubunji which is where Fukurou Sabo is located offers a welcome respite from the busy city and likely results in calmer, happier birds. So if you’ve ever wanted to hold a staring contest with an owl, this is the place to go.