There were few activities that were essential to my Japan bucket list. Other than devouring gratuitous amounts of food, the other two were;
- Touch a deer in Nara
- Bask in the presence of Owls whilst sipping on a weak iced coffee – the coffee part completely non-compulsory.
Fortunately, J puts up with my fixation with cats, foxes, deer and owls and doesn’t mind, or so he says, my dragging him around to audibly ‘awwww’ and tear up at the sight of these magnificent creatures. I should note that I am not someone who usually goes knee-weak for kawaii (check me out, ma, my Japanese is improving!) animals, objects, whatever – only the aforementioned species.
One weekday afternoon, we visited Osaka’s Lucky Owl café, situated down a small arcade and up a rickety flight of stairs near Namba station, Osaka.
I was anxious about having to wait for my owl-time but we were ushered inside, immediately seated and explained the rules. There is no entry fee at the Lucky Owl café, yet patrons are required to order an extortionately priced tea, coffee or juice (1000 yen) before ignoring your beverage completely in order to visit the owls around the small café space.
The rules are pretty easy to follow; each owl has a coloured card associated with it:
- Red – do not touch the owl
- Yellow – it’s ok to lightly touch its beak, head and upper-back
- Green – only gently touch the beak, preferably with the back of your hand
And absolutely no flash photography is allowed.
In the corner sat the largest feathered creature I have ever seen, Tiana. A glorious white spattered owl which would have easily be the same size as my torso. Statuesque Tiana was obviously the beloved owl of Lucky Owl, she even had a chalk drawing of her on the blackboard in front of the café. Tiana had her own rule card – describing how to gently call her name, and then touch her beak before touching her on her head or upper- back.
I must confess that approaching the owls was daunting at first – but they generally had a beautiful temperament, except one owl that was constantly screeching and clearly eager to fly away. Their feathers were soft and one owl which reminded me of Hedwig would gently close its large eyes whenever I softly petted her head. Love.
One of the concerns whenever visiting any business that has animals in confinement is the standard of their welfare. Previous to visiting any owl café, I had seen photos of owls being hauled around by chains wrapped around their talons, being forced to sit upon the shoulders of café goers which made me apprehensive in supporting such businesses. Lucky Owl, from what I could determine, was pretty serious about the treatment of their owls – one strike against the rules and you’re out. The owls had lengthy ropes attached to them to allow some degree of free-roaming and patrons are not permitted to leash them along like some other Owl cafes. The only trepidation I have with Japan’s Owl café culture may be the unnatural environment they are placed in. Owls are biologically nocturnal creatures so they are constantly being disturbed during the time they should be resting and it was quite apparent how exhausted some of them were during the afternoon we visited.
I have heard that the Lucky Owl also temporarily boards owls owned by individuals so it must be doing something right or else people wouldn’t board their beloved feathered housemates there.
Just before our hour was up, we said a quick goodbye to the owls and left feeling our owl café visit was a positive experience. I should end this post with some form of punch line here so I’ll do what every other blogger has done on the topic of owls and say that we had a hoot visiting Lucky Owl. Hah.