I have many feelings on owl cafes.
On one hand, it’s the only way I’ve ever gotten to see one of my favorite creatures (second only to cats) up close. On the other, is whether the cafes are good for the owls.
The first owl cafe I went to cost 2,000 yen and I went with friends. The owl cafe boom had just happened. After a wait outside the place, we entered and were given 60 minutes to enjoy the owls.
That mean looking at the owls, asking the staff to let them perch on our arm and taking pictures of the owls. They were adorable.
Looking back, I wonder about the conditions. They had a big list in English of how the owls were cared for. They take them to a different room at night where they are free to fly around untethered.
However, the room they were kept at day time had bare white walls and was cramped. Over forty owls were kept in a rather tight space. Many of the owls were perched only a foot to two feet apart.
I probably would not recommend going to that one. It was clean and the owls looked care for (although owls are notorious for hiding their health conditions). However, I just think the room was too sparse and cramped for that many owls.
I also think it was overpriced.
I rather like the one in Kamakura.
The whole room is made to look like a tropical forest, the windows let in lots of natural sunlight (it’s not just fluorescent light) and the owls are given lots of space. Some owls had the whole corner to themselves.
In a room twice the size of the first cafe I went to, there was fifteen owls spread out. They were tethered, but the owner was very attentive. If an owl isn’t up for being around crowds, she would take them to a backroom where they could have a break and be untethered.
The price is also only 600 yen. So I’d recommend this owl cafe if you are in Kamakura.
I feel much better about the conditions of the owls here. They have lots of space, natural light, and are not crowded together here.