Bibi and George: Kobe Motomachi

The cafe's friendly, good-natured staff and friendly birds make this a very pleasant place to spend an hour of your time. The setup is a bit unusual, starting with the ticket machine at the entrance of the three-story shop where you choose what you want to drink in the cafe and how long you want to stay.

The first floor has a resident bird or two, but it seems to be mainly an entrance lobby, or perhaps a waiting area during busy times. Up a narrow staircase up on the second floor is the main cafe space, where you can relax and drink your coffee or soft drink (or beer) and recharge your batteries. This is also where you'll be briefed on the cafe's procedures and bird safety rules, with a written instruction sheet in English or Japanese.

The main aviary is up on the third floor, and this is where you can meet most of the seventeen resident birds. The big snowy owl down at the end of the room was quite a character, clowning around for photos and trying to peck at anyone who got within range of its beak. (The proprietor laughingly demonstrated this to us, and said that it didn't really hurt.) The baby owl on a skateboard was another popular model for photographs.

Most of the birds are pettable (gently and briefly on the head only), although a few are on break at any given time - the staff will tell you which ones not to touch. You can also ask the staff if you can hold one of the smaller birds, although it may depend on how crowded the place is. We were told that some of the birds here make guest appearances at Miacis cat cafe, around six or seven minutes away down the Motomachi shopping arcade.

Kobe's first owl cafe boasts unusual species such as the burrowing owl and western screech owl, along with the familiar eagle-owls, snowy owl, barn owl and tawny owl. Reservations are accepted via the shop's website or by phone, or you can just show up.

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Bibi and George
Kobe Motomachi / Bird cafe
Open 11am-8pm (last entry 7pm). Closed Mondays.
Cover charge is Y1000 for one hour (soft drink included) or Y1200 (beer or chuhai included)
Average visit time: 60 minutes
Chuo-ku, Kobe, Sakaemachi-dori 1-2-14, Umifuku Bldg 1-3F.