One of a growing number of owl cafes in the city of owls, Ikebukuro, Owl Park opened in September 2015 in the middle of a bustling nightlife district. A spacious room on the second floor of a busy entertainment building, it offers a dozen friendly owls. The owls are mostly smaller varieties such as scops, little owls and barn owls, but there are three larger types - brown wood owl, Ural owl and eagle owl. The pastel-wash walls are decorated with vivid plastic foliage and colorful acrylic paintings by Africa-trained Japanese artist Shogen.
When we visited on a Wednesday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves for an hour. The very accommodating staff offered us a chance to hold Choco, an inquisitive and bright-eyed little scops owl. He seemed delighted by the attention, and was happy to be petted gently for ages.
The hulking great Eurasian eagle owl was a handful at 2.4kg, and when he got a glimpse of his perch over my shoulder, he decided he'd rather be there. The wind from his massive wings knocked over a couple of the plastic trees.
If it's quiet enough, you may be able to see Lucky the barn owl fly from his perch onto a visitor's arm. Perhaps it was too soon after lunch, but Lucky took a lot of coaxing to fly the two meters from his perch. It took several minutes of calling his name and waving his favorite soft toy before he swooped over to grab his raw meat treat. Apparently, he flies a lot more readily after 4pm.
Owl Park is one of the new style of casual laid-back owl cafes. The rules are explained during the visit, and while there are no drinks on sale, visitors are free to bring their own soft drinks. According to the manager, some regulars even bring a bento box to enjoy lunch with the birds. The swing bench seat is a popular selfie-prop for couples and their owls.
Note: the venue operates a seasonal exchange program with a zoo in Hokkaido, so the variety of owls may change.