During the planning for our big trip to Japan, we added a pet or animal cafe to our list. For us here in Australia, an Owl Cafe, or Cat, Hedgehog, Reptile or many other combinations of animal + coffee seems quite odd. But with Japan being such a populated place, with small homes let alone backyards or other outdoor areas, pet cafes are a great way for Japanese locals to engage regularly with animals. We visited an Owl Cafe in Nara to see what it was all about, driven mainly by Jed’s love of owls. This was a very short walk from Nara Park.
Most animal cafes are the same. You purchase a drink from a machine or directly at the counter, and this entitles you to a defined period of time within the cafe. During this time you can engage with the pets, in this case owls. We bought a juice each for the kids, we grabbed a coffee, and sat down to have a drink amoungst at least 20 different owls! We were able to walk around, but had to sanitise our hands and some of the owls were off limits due to rest retrictions.
We had read all about the thoughts on animal cafes, and do understand. But in Japan this is clearly legal, it is well supported by locals and tourists alike, and is a way for their society to engage with animals. We held our own judgements and gave it a go.
Whilst travelling around Japan just twice did we see someone walking a dog. Animals are jsut not that common in city areas and perhaps this is how they tackle it.
The owls get down time, and they lighting is adjusted to have them awake during our day time. The place was immaculate, there was only one poop and unfortunately for Jed that was right on his shoulder. We tried to convince him of the associated luck but he was having none of it.
There are lots of different animal cafes in Japan. Maybe check one out on your next visit!