Fukuro no Ouchi: Tokyo Sugamo

The "Owl House" is on a side street off the famous Sugamo shopping arcade, or Granma's Harajuku as it is commonly known. During a recent visit most of the clientele were chatty seniors in their trademark outfits of clashing florals. We took our seats at a table overlooking the central, glass-enclosed aviary. Drinks are included in the one-hour fee, and cakes are Y500 extra - but well worth the extravagance.

While the menu features seven cakes decorated with lifelike owl faces, only two or three varieties are available each day. We went with a spectacled owl cake, a dead ringer for the cafe's own Watson, and were very pleasantly surprised. It was a real taste sensation - rich dark chocolate mousse with orange and vanilla flavors, a cashew-nut beak and crunchy almond-cookie wings. It's really far more sophisticated than it looks.

Among Tokyo owl cafes, Owl House stands out for its unusual parliament of owls. Along with the familiar barn owl, scops and eagle owls are the rare spectral owl, snowy owl, Verreaux's eagle owl, sooty owl, striped owl, Ural owl, and a tiny ferruginous pygmy owl.

After about twenty minutes watching the other visitors in the aviary, our number came up and we were led inside. The manager gave us a two-minute chat on petting etiquette, and then started the clock on our ten-minute session. You can pet the owls, take photographs, and ask to hold certain birds (a few birds were in training or resting).

We were recommended a tiny Eurasian scops owl called Chocolat to hold. Despite being woken from a pleasant snooze on his perch, he seemed to enjoy being petted, and cooed and purred enthusiastically. Quite the charmer!

The cafe also has a huge array of owl-related merchandise including glossy photos of the resident owls, coffee mugs and owl trinkets.

Click on photos below to see larger versions
Fukuro no Ouchi
Tokyo Sugamo / Bird cafe
Open 1-8pm (Sat, Sun 12-8). Closed Wednesdays.
Admission charge is Y1500 for one hour; thirty-minute extensions are Y500.
Average visit time: one hour
Sugamo 3-18-13.