First row: Little owl / Barn owl / White-faced scops owl
Middle row: Great grey owl / Indian eagle owl / Vermiculated eagle owl
Last row: Great horned owl / Southern boobook / Spotted eagle owl
Aside from the usual cat and dog cafes, Japan is widely known to have all these quirky animal cafes (think rabbits, owls, hedgehogs, snakes etc) that are quickly making its way to everyone’s list. I first discovered that Japan had these owl cafes after my first trip there four years ago, and i was deeply devastated because had i known about them sooner, i would definitely have made my way to one.
I had actually made a list of potential owl cafes that i wanted to check out on this trip but discovered this place by accident while waiting around for my family. It is located right in the city centre and can easily be seen along the main road. Set up like an actual forest, you make your way independently until you reach the end of the footpath. There is no time limit, so you are welcome to spend however long you want. Each owl has a respective information plate, though the descriptions are only written in Japanese. You are only allowed to pet the owls using the back of your hand and it has to be gentle. Pictures are allowed but you’ll need to disable the flash as it can blind them.
P/s These guys run a Bengal Cat Forest as well and there are combined passes if you’re interested – adult tickets for 1,350yen and children tickets for 1,000yen.
//Note: As with all establishments that involve animals, it is only natural for a place like this to have mixed reviews. I do sympathise with the owls being tied to their respective branches and kept awake at odd hours of the day, but at the same time i did want to experience being up close with these lovely creatures for the first time. Maybe it was because the place was empty during my visit, but i thought this to be better than those owl cafes where the owls are forcibly made to interact with each person. At the same time, i can only imagine how chaotic it will be when it gets hectic as these owls are completely unsupervised. I only hope that visitors would respect these creatures and abide by the rules and not act thoughtlessly for the sake of pictures.
Arashiyama Forest of Owls
2F Arashiyama Square
Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8385
Open 7 days, 10am-5.30pm
Admission: Adult – 680yen, children – 480yen
Nearest station: Arashiyama station (Randen/Keifuku Tram Line)