Everyone knows about Japanese maid cafés, but lately, a different kind of cafe has experienced an unprecedented renaissance in Japan–owl cafés.
Patrons of such cafés can elect to sip coffee in a room full of owls. Particularly enthusiastic customers can pay extra to interact more with the owls, feeding or holding them for a picture. Apparently, owls are a common thing to be a fan of in Japan; the word for owl, fukurō (梟), means good luck or protection from hardship. Plus, those large owl eyes are the epitome of kawaii.
Is anyone else totally weirded out by this…? I mean, I like owls as much as the next person, but if someone were to ask me, “Hey, what animal would you like to drink a latte next to?” my first answer would definitely not be owls. But my social media feeds are filled with tons of pictures of people who make owl cafés the first stop on their Japan trips.
Not everyone, however, is a fan of these establishments. Animal rights activists and conservationists argue that keeping solitary predatory birds in a small, confined environment for the sake of human entertainment isn’t right, even though many of the birds featured in owl cafes have been raised in captivity. I don’t think something like this would fly (ha) in the States–but perhaps the parameters for “animal cruelty” are different in Japan (another example that comes to mind is fishing for goldfish at matsuri, summer festivals).
What are your thoughts, cute or cruel? Stay tuned next week for another installment of “Cool Cafés,” and leave any suggestions for weird cafés in the comments!