By Bonson Lam
In this latest plot twist to the "cute animal + coffee shop" formula, visitors can spend time learning about and relaxing with some of nature’s most enigmatic creatures.
In Osaka, Owl Family have three different shops where you can indulge in your love for the feathered and furred, while getting your caffeine hit. At The Chou Chou Tenmangu Store, there are over twenty different owl species for you to play with, including some rare breeds such as the Bay Owl.
Upon entering, you decide the amount of time you wish to spend with your owl family, before paying. Prices start from 1500 yen for 1-hour (adult price), which includes a choice of hot or cold beverage. Be careful not to accidentally exceed your selected time limit, or you will need to pay extra!
After locking your belongings in the locker unit, you will be required to watch a quick and entertaining 5 minute video explaining the do’s and don’ts of owl handling.
Once qualified, you are allowed into the owl handling zone! Guests are paired with a member of staff, who will place your choice of owl upon your arm and ensure that everything goes smoothly. Should you wish to up the ante, let your furry companion perch on your shoulder, or even your head!
My first owl was named Haku, a large owl with orange eyes the colour of egg yolks. At 10 months old, he is still considered a fledgling for his particular variety, which can live from 25 to 35 years.
While many owls are sleeping and therefore not available to play with, you are free to take as many photos of resting owls as you like, to commemorate your very unique Japan experience.
The store clerks speak good English and are on hand to tell you all that you could wish to know.
Here are the two most interesting facts I learned during my visit:
Eye color: colors vary depending on the time of day the owl species is active in the wild. As a rule of thumb, yellow-eyed owls are diurnal, being active in the day time. Orange-eyed species are crepuscular and active around dawn and dusk. Black-eyed owls are nocturnal, hunting by night.
Gender: for many breeds, it is not possible to distinguish between male and female unless you take a blood test.
To see a full listing of each owl at this store and more detailed information about each species, click here.
Looking for accommodation while you plan your trip? Take a look at Hotel Mystays Shin Osaka Conference Center.
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