The hot new thing in Japan? The crazy owl cafes in Tokyo where Harry Potter fans can cosplay while fondling their very own (rented) “Hedwig.” J.K. Rowling’s got some ‘splaining to do to the Strigiformes of the world…
As a lover of all things odd, unusual and down right weird – Tokyo is my mecca. But sometimes, things that sound like fun (think: “Moomin Pub” or “Cuddle Corner”) can be downright disturbing. Like a trip to one of the city’s owl cafes, which are popping up all over town.
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Reasons why I thought a trip to an Owl Cafe would be fun:
- Owls are cute.
- I’ve never seen an owl up close.
- Who the hell would want to pay good money to dress up like Hermione and cuddle owls? This was going to be a freakish organza!
- Why were so many owl cafes popping up? My investigative journalistic instincts were going into overdrive.
- I love (others in) cosplay… it makes me feel normal.
Reasons why a trip to an Owl Cafe was… not so fun.
- You have to make an appointment – so you aren’t mingling with other owl enthusiasts. It’s just you and a bunch of owls.
- Said owls are either caged or tethered to poles…
- … making them rather pissed off and/or depressed (and please note, I am not an owl shrink, but as a former gossip columnist I’ve seen my fair share of pissed off and depressed people… and they’re not so different from owls. Trust).
- They are carnivores and will try to eat your fleshy, soft tissue bits.
- Owls, like all birds have no sphincter muscles – and therefore poop (mostly on poopy pads but sometimes not) everywhere. Pissed off and depressed owls seem to poop even more.
- There were 36 of these guys all living in a 350 square foot, smelly room… which had closed windows and blinds to prevent escape/ freedom attempts (According to one of the women who worked there, “It has happened. The owls hurt themselves so now we just shut all the windows and blinds all the time.”)
- The “cafe” (a misnomer as no food or drinks were served. Thankfully) was disturbingly staffed by well meaning animal lovers who have minimal experience with sometimes endangered animals (one staffer who was half French: “In my homeland of France I would have to have a degree to work so close with animals like this, here I just show up! Look – this is a rare owl….”). It was run by a severe looking woman who showed up with a Louis Vuitton bag for five minutes, tapped on her bejewelled cellphone and barked a few orders before leaving.
Well, see for yourself and check out the video. I lasted in the cafe approximately 14 minutes, which is 13.5 minutes more than my pal Tatsuro who freaked out and ran after the first owl hissed at him. In the owl’s defense, he was wearing a Stetson with several dead bird feathers in it. In a weird ironic twist, the Japanese word for owl is “Fukurou” – which is, I’m sure, exactly what all those birds in that cafe would like to tell us right about now.