Owls, hawks and talking parrots! Bird Cafe in Kiba — 鳥のいるカフェ

Everybody has most likely already heard about or been to cat cafes, which I suppose are definitely not considered any sort of novelty anymore. They have become an integral part of Tokyo — without cat cafes peppered around town, it wouldn’t be Japanese enough. Since Japanese people love new interesting things and they love animals — I’m not surprised that a new trend took off recently. The first time I saw that owl cafes exist and that they’re actually a thing, was when I watched my friend Laura’s video about one place in Osaka (watch the video here). Then a few days ago I read a blog post by Minty Lemony (read the blog post →here←) and thought that if there is such a place in Osaka, I was pretty darn sure I’d find a similar place in Tokyo.  My hunch paid off and I was right, there are actually a few places and you can find some info about all of them →here←. The owl cafe I chose to visit happened to be closed on Tuesdays, but I found another one — and not only did it have owls, but also a small hawk and talking parrots!

Bird Cafe 鳥のいるカフェ

2 Chome-6-7 Kiba

Koto, Tokyo

Their website: http://www9.ocn.ne.jp/~toricafe/index.html

Their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/torinoirucafe

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On that day I had my weekly Japanese class near Tokyo Station, so to get to Kiba (木場), I took the Marunouchi Line (東京メトロ丸ノ内線) to Otemachi (大手町) and changed to the Tozai Line (東京メトロ東西線) bound for Toyo Katsutadai (東葉勝田台). Be sure to use the 4A exit, which is the closest to the cafe. I had never been to Kiba before, but I found the place with little to no effort.

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I was expecting long lines in front of the cafe but, well, I was wrong, there were just a few people inside. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was about 3 o’clock on a Tuesday and simply most people are working at that time.

 When you see a place covered with bushes, YAY, you made it! You just arrived at 鳥のいるカフェ — Tori no iru cafe = Bird Cafe.

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  When you enter the place, you’ll be greeted by the whole gang. The owls and the hawk are in a special glass room, spending their time sleeping or gazing at the customers. But they’re not the only bird residents here.

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The cafe itself is really small, there were about 16 seats and only two staff members. As you can see there’s a tree inside and it actually looked so real I didn’t really know whether it was fake or not. There were baby owls and some rather talkative parrots. They mainly shouted random things in their parrot language but there was one parrot named Ringo-chan which introduced herself (“Ringo-chan!”), greeted us politely  (“Konnichiwa!” and “Ohayo!”) and reacted appropriately whenever she felt that her personal space was invaded (“Kowai! Kowai!” = “Scary!”).

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 A cute, bird-themed toilet

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As I expected their menu had rather steep prices, but that’s not drinks or cheesecake that you’re paying for here. At first you need to order something and when you’re done drinking and eating, you can pay your bill and pay an additional 500 yen to spend 5 minutes with the owls.

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I got this cheesecake & cafe latte set for 1100 yen. One more time – it’s not the food we’re paying for here but I must say that the cheesecake was pretty decent.

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And a short introduction of the bird staff! Name, species, breed, date of birth, sex, weight, country of origin, special talents like talking, playful biting, cheerful singing, wiggle dance etc.

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Apparently in other cafes customers are allowed to pet them and play with them for about an hour. One may think that 5 minutes is too short but there’s a reason for that. According to the guide we got from the staff, they simply get tired, and we don’t want the fluffy balls to feel bad, do we? From what I saw, they’re taken good care of, and I didn’t mind spending only 5 minutes with them. In fact, I thought that was just about right.

 Here are some important rules, you’d better get familiar with before entering the petting room:

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Time to go to the petting room!

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This has to be the most dramatic owl I have ever seen. He played a tough guy at first and I was actually scared he would bite me, but he turned out to be a total sucker for attention. He seemed to respond with a quiet rapture when people would pet him!

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Well, I actually didn’t have enough courage to hold any of the birds, but my boyfriend did and you can see that it was neither scary nor dangerous and the birdies were friendly.

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 It was sooo fluffy and cute ♥

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 ⇑

Awwww look,  someone was being shy ♥

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These poor things…The notice says not to touch them because they’re still babies so their immune system is weak, but if you really want to pet them you should call the store assistant first.

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After 5 minutes a bell rang and our time with the lovely owls was over. It was a nice experience, and as for the birdies, I’m positive they’re in responsible hands and the staff knows how to take proper care of them.

If you feel the sudden urge to be like Harry Potter for once in your life, come on by the Bird Cafe and find your very own Hedwig!

 

 

The most badass owl you’ve seen all day.

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Tokyo in snapshots: Shinjuku 新宿

 Recently I have noticed that what was exciting / new / weird / funny for me when I first came to Japan, has now become really quite normal and, come to think of it, I don’t even pay attention to most of those things anymore. For example, I was kind of surprised to see that all Japanese cars are kind of square and small and like 80% of vehicles are white…except for taxis. There’s one special type of car used for taxis in Japan (it’s a Toyota Crown Comfort if you’re interested). And you know what else? All of the cars are so clean and shiny, people here really care about their cars. That was one of the things that struck  me as so different than Europe. Another one is shouting store assistants. Seriously, at first it made me really stressed out, I didn’t really want to go shopping in Shinjuku or Shibuya, where store assistants  shout so loud I didn’t know how it could be considered a good way to bring in more customers? But apparently, Japanese people have a high noise tolerance – if you ever passed a pachinko parlor, you’ll know.

Right now, thinking about what was new to me when I first came to Japan gave me this feeling of pure nostalgia… so I thought I’d take some snapshots and just show you around Tokyo.

SHINJUKU 

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Shinjuku Station is the busiest station in the world. According to Guinness World Records  “An average of 3.64 million passengers per day pass through the station, which has over 200 exits (←I didn’t know that) and serves the city’s western suburbs via a range of intercity, commuter rail and metro services” (see here).

I can’t even begin to count how many times I got lost there. It gets a bit easier with time, but I think that even Japanese people have problems. You can always ask a station officer about the way but… chances they speak English? Near zero. So I hope you speak Japanese!

Also, I’m sure you’ll notice it the second you step into the station, Japanese people walk real slow. You’d think that people here are super busy so they’d try their best to commute quickly, right? They do speed up to jump in trains at the last minute, literally as the doors are closing, but basically it’s not easy to be a fast walker here. I wouldn’t consider myself a really fast walker but I  still walk faster than most other people on the street.

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 Shinjuku South Exit

You can often see some people performing there. One Canadian guitar player I used to share a guest house with told me once that it’s actually illegal to perform there and that he knows station officers’ schedule so he can avoid the times when they’re there. Apparently the lady in this picture knew their schedule too, and she even managed to gather a small crowd of salarymen to admire her crooning.

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Most of the stations in Tokyo have pachinko parlors, karaoke booths and video game arcades in their neighbourhood and Shinjuku isn’t any different. Thinking about it now, I actually remember I ate my first bite of okonomiyaki somewhere around this area.

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Shinjuku East Exit

The first thing you currently see when you get out of the station, using this exit, will be a giant Kimura Takuya’s face staring down at you.  I didn’t capture it this time, but if you google “Alta Shinjuku”, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Other things you’ll see here are game arcades again, some DVD and purikura booths, dirt cheap izakayas…and lots of lingerie and shoe shops. Why?

One word: KABUKICHO.

…and what do shoes and Kabukicho have in common? Well, I’d say you can find a rather wide selection of super high heels here, that’s the connection. You’ll see some more of Kabukicho a few photographs later, so hang tight.

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Shinjuku can also look very elegant, at least I find this street very cool looking. Unless there’s a car with a dozen of half-naked ladies casually passing by…

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Here it is! Kabukicho – the red light district of Tokyo. Some Japanese people told me that a few years back, Kabukicho was considered a no-go, a yakuza town where they’d rip you off, steal everything and most likely kick your teeth down your throat as an added bonus. I have only passed through Kabukicho, I have no intention of hanging out in that area to be honest. Knowing what’s going on behind the doors of numerous dingy clubs there, makes me avoid it like the plague.

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What do we have in here…”Talent in pub Super Angel” whatever that means, video DVD booths which might look innocent, but trust me, they are not. There was this one time I needed to kill some time and thought I could use one of those DVD booths and just stay there for a while (it wasn’t in Kabukicho though, it was in Ueno) but what I saw there was far from what I imagined was an innocent place where one can watch some DVDs. You should expect one type of movies, for one type of clients (or is it my bad luck that I always find creepy places?)

Countless girls’ bars, kyabakura clubs, sekukyaba clubs, love hotels…

a little dictionary for you to take a gander at:

hostess club: well groomed women pretending that drunk businessmen are the most attractive men in the world, laughing at all their lame jokes, pouring their whisky, lighting their cigarettes

host club: same as above, but switch genders

girls bar: a typical bar where you can drink some whiskey or any other spirit, with one difference – all staff is young, attractive females

kyabakura club: like a hostess club but girls wear sexy clothes, the “look but don’t touch” rule applies

sekukyaba club: like kyabakura clubs but the “look but don’t touch” rule doesn’t apply, one can buy a certain ‘service’ here, not a ‘full service’ though

love hotel: no need to explain that, I guess. Suffice to say, you need to bring your own play partner

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And host clubs… There are lots of these boys on the streets of Kabukicho, desperately looking for clients. Some of them are rather far away from what one would have called worth spending over 10,000 yen on.

No…just no.

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And if you’re just looking for some cheap izakayas and cheap food, it’s an okay place to go. I can’t really recommend it since I have never really spent much time there, but I guess it is much safer than it was, say, 15 years ago (according to my Japanese friends). So yeah, why not check out Kabukicho?

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When someone asks me about Shinjuku, a few brief pictures always come to mind. Skyscrapers, fashionable people, Kabukicho and cute narrow streets with those ubiquitous taxis, karaoke booths, pachinko parlors … everything you’ve ever heard about Tokyo, you can easily find it gathered in this one district.

 

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 Thanks for stopping by! ♥

 

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Shin-Okubo / Korean Town — one of a kind! ♥♥♥

If you check through my last few updates, you might get the impression that Shibuya is my favourite spot.

But actually, no, it’s not.

It’s Shin-Okubo, which I love more than Omotesando, more than Harajuku and definitely more than Shibuya.

Why…?

I went there for the first time in August 2012, just a few weeks after I came to Japan. At that time I had no interest in k-pop or even Korean food whatsoever, but there was one reason I would go there every week, and her name is Akane. She’s my lovely friend who at that time was staying in Kokuritsu International Medical Research Center Hospital which just so happens to be located in Okubo. Every week, until the end of March 2013 when she went back to her hometown, I visited her there, and that’s how it all started. Akane battled leukemia, but she’s a happy, healthy girl now. It’s a long long story, and I hope to write about it more one day. Today I want to show you the town that gave me more happy memories than any other place I have been to so far.

As I came here every week, I started checking out the shops, eating delicious japchae in the lunchtime, SoundHounding awesome k-pop songs I heard for the first time…and before I realized it, I was totally in love with everything about this town.

Shin-Okubo, Korean Town.

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Now that I’m k-pop / Korean food / Korean cosmetics obsessed, Shin-Okubo is like heaven to me. It’s like Little Korea in Tokyo. When you get off at Shin-Okubo station, you see posters advertising new Korean dramas or makgeolli rather than Asahi or some  TBS drama with Kimura Takuya.

With all the idol shops, it’s a k-pop fan paradise. Whoever your bias is, whichever CD you’re looking for – everything is here.

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 ♥   I swear this place will make me go bankrupt one day   ♥

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Last time I went there, each store was full of Tohoshinki. As it turned out, it was the day their Japan Live Tour began. Can’t complain, before the YG Family Concert it was full of BIGBANG accessories, so I guess it’s just what store owners do to keep each fandom group happy.

Besides, the guys from Tohoshinki are drop-dead gorgeous so it’s all good.

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 Countless cosmetics & k-pop accessories shops↓

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I really recommend this store. They have a supermarket on the first floor with cosmetics, super spicy  instant ramen, kimchi, seaweed, makgeolli, kimbap, all the yummy stuff and some handsome store assistants… Second floor: more cosmetics, brands like Missha, Etude House, 3 Concept Eyes, Skin Food, cute hair accessories and more handsome store assistants. Third floor: Korean fashion, shoes, watches, accessories, stationery and pretty female store assistants for a change. Everyone can find something here that appeals to them.

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〒169-0073 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Hyakuninchō, 2 Chome−1−2

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If you’re used to Japanese customer service style, Shin-Okubo might surprise you. Japanese store assistants must smile all the time, they keep distance from you, don’t really talk to you until you seem interested in an item. It’s completely different here…store asisstants will follow you around the store putting you under pressure to buy something, they will grab your hand and put some cream on it, asking you to smell it “Smells beautiful? Yeah? You like it? Buy it then”. When I wear clothes showing my tattoos, most of shop staff members ask me about them, they touch them (without asking me first actually, but it’s friendly — not creepy), one woman just grabbed my arm with both her hands and was rubbing my arm tattoo for like 2 minutes saying “oh so cuuuute” *rub rub*. I don’t mind. Also, unlike Japanese store assistants who will smile and compliment you no matter what, Korean shop staff is more likely to show what they really think.

That reminds me of one conversation I had with a female store assistant:

Store Assistant: What cosmetics brand do you use?

Me: Mainly Missha.

SA: Missha….ಠ_ಠ

/5 minutes later/

Me: *talking with my friend, commenting on a BIGBANG poster*

SA: Do you like BIGBANG?

Me: Like? We love them!

SA: Oh…..ಠ_ಠ 

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This guy though! My friend and I passed his little stall with some sweets a few times, and each time he tried to get our attention, so I thought it could be fun to talk to him and ask him for a photo. I really wish I could buy one box of that thing, but unfortunately I don’t really eat sweet stuff (yes, my friends already called me a freak a million times).

He was a super funny guy though, so if you see this little stall with cute looking pastel cookies or whatever that is, get some of that sweet goodness

 😀

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 If you love Korean food as much as I do, you will never want to leave… Supermarkets with delicious stuff straight from Korea, and lots of awesome restaurants playing awesome music.

↓My lovely friend Madoka buying a corn tea supply for a few months

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I have so many good memories connected to this place , it will always have a sincerely special place in my heart. It’s a must go if you love k-pop, Korean food, Korean cosmetics, Korean anything. And well, if you don’t…it’s a fun place to hang out anyway!

Thanks for reading! ♥

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That funny guy: Let’s take one more photo, c’mon

Me: Sure!

TFG: Love love moooooode!!!♥ (ラブラブモード!!!)

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Crazy cat guy in Shibuya! 九州猫おじさん

 Like I mentioned before, I don’t really hang out in Shibuya, but when I do…many rather interesting things happen. On the day of that photo shoot I described in my previous post, Ayaka and I were hanging around the Shibuya station area and saw something that caught our eye….

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 Hey, you see that? What’s that?

A man…

A man and his cat….

Oh wait, there’s more!

A man and his 9 (maybe 10?) cats.

Oh okay…that was rather unexpected.

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Yup, he was just standing there with a “Ohhh yeeaaahhhh look at my magnificent catssss” look on his face. He wasn’t talking to people. Just standing there with one cat on his shoulder and like 8 or 9 (I coudln’t really see how many) fluffy balls in a pet stroller. Of course, people stopped and took pictures, petted the cats and you could hear a loud “Awwwwww!” every few seconds. The guy had a sticky tape roller and he used it from time to time to take the cat fur off his face, hair and clothes. One cat went like 1 human step away from the stroller, and the guy suddenly grabbed its tail and put it back in the stroller.

I was a bit puzzled actually.

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↑↑↑↑↑  “Your death will be slow and painful, human”

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They were super fluffy and cuter even than the Nyan cat, but I noticed something that was a bit worrying. They didn’t really move… I mean they were alive but they were sleeping all the time and they were like rag dolls. I have never seen any cats behaving like this. All the cats I have ever seen in Japan are wild, they seem to hate people and run away when you get closer than 5 meters. I know that these cats were domesticated but still…Cats do whatever they want, if they want to go, they go, they don’t give a flying fungus that you want them to stay. I don’t want to make strange assumptions, but just think about it…

Is it possible to train your cat to behave like a rag doll? Anyone else think it’s weird or is it just me thinking about it too much?

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↓ Notice John Lennon on the left.

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↓An old man, giggling school girls and cats. Japan in one picture.

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Apparently the guy called himself 九州猫おじさん and that translates to something like “The [old] cat man from Kyushu”. I know that because before I and Ayaka left, he took out his smartphone and showed us his facebook page (without saying a single word). I’m not really sure why, maybe it’s his fanpage or something. You can find him by typing in “九州猫おじさん”. I can’t decide whether I should go “Awww!” looking at these picutres, or feel sorry for those little fluffy balls, because they were dragged out into the busiest and noisiest area of Tokyo just to serve as some sort of entertainment for people.

Well, at least photos of Tokyo still make me go “Awww!” everytime.

Tokyo, how can one not love you?

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Thanks for reading!♥