Tori no Iru Cafe: Tokyo Asakusa

The emphasis is on hands-on interaction with dozens of lively birds at this basement cafe in touristy Asakusa. The cafe offers two very different experiences: a quiet moment with ten sleepy owls, and absolute bedlam with a flock of noisy, boisterous parrots and parakeets.

At the door, you're handed a rule sheet in English and Japanese, asked to disinfect your hands, and advised to don a protective poncho before entering the parrot area. You'll also be warned to open the door to the parrot room very gently, and to walk in carefully so as not to step on any birds that might be on the floor.

The fee is Y1,500 for one hour. Better watch the clock, however, as it's so much raucous fun in the parrot room that people can forget the time and incur extension fees (Y300 per fifteen minutes).

On our initial visit, the owls included two fledglings still in the process of molting their fluffy baby feathers. Along with the familiar Indian eagle-owl and scops owls, there was also a very rare milky eagle-owl with a price tag of one million yen. In the parrot room, a dozen vivid sun parakeets will flock to you, line up on your arms and head, and nibble on your ears and neck.

The lineup also includes rare birds such as a kookaburra, northern red-billed hornbill, white-throated toucan, and a crimson-and-blue female eclectus parrot, famous for its extreme sexual dimorphism - the male is emerald green. The loudness and friendliness of the shrieking, squawking parakeets can be a bit intense and overpowering for some, but most people find the hyperactive birds fascinating - hence the automatic time extensions.

There's a small shop selling owl- and bird-related goods at the entrance, and you can also purchase drinks. Note that the shop can get unpleasantly crowded on weekends, so weekday visits are advised.

(NB: As most of these birds are for sale, the species of birds you encounter may vary.)

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Tori no Iru Cafe
Tokyo Asakusa / Bird cafe
Open 1-8pm daily.
Y1000 cover charge for 30 minutes; Y1500 for 60 minutes
Average visit time: 60 minutes
Asakusa 1-12-8, Oyama Bldg B1F.