Thursday, March 12, 2015

First time at a Tokyo bird cafe - Tori no Iru Cafe in Asakusa

So if you know me, you know that I love birds. I'm not sure exactly when this great love for birds started, but sometime during childhood, I began keeping parakeets, I went on countless birdwatching trips with my mom, and I ticked off all the birds I'd sighted in my well-worn Sibley field guide. I was a girl obsessed. I wanted to become an ornithologist. When I fell in love with something, I fell deep.

Now that I'm taking care of a cockatiel at home, I thought there'd be no need for me to visit one of the bird cafes in Tokyo. I didn't quite fancy the thought of having to buy bird-themed food and drinks, then pay extra just to get up close to the birds. But then I came across Tori no Iru Cafe online, and it seemed like a dream come true. I made plans to go check it out immediately.

I went on a weekday evening, and the cafe wasn't very crowded at all, just a handful of people. That was good, since the facility is a bit small without too much room to move around. I'm glad I brought along a wider lens, since the birds are literally right in your face, there isn't space to back up really.

The cafe consisted of two parts, the owl and hawk area, and the larger parrot room. The owls were adorable, mostly quite sleepy-looking and many of them so small that you can pick them up and put them in your pocket (although you aren't allowed, of course!). Customers pay by amount of time they spend visiting the birds, and we're free to gently pet the birds on the head. To pick up the owls, customers need to ask the staff for guidance, since their talons are extremely sharp.

The birds were amazingly well behaved, sitting calmly and observing the people coming in and out of the cafe. I liked how almost all of the birds were allowed to move around freely, rather than being stuffed in cages all the time. In the parrot room, the birds flew around as they liked. The owls and raptors were tethered down, but they seemed well taken care of.

The cafe provided ponchos to wear upon entering the parrot room, since the sun conures just come flying at you and land on you in bunches! I had about five or six birds perching on me at any one time, it was amazing :) One landed on my head, a few on my shoulders, sidling up to my arms and hands... these noisy birds were extremely friendly and curious. They had large beaks, but didn't bite very hard, just nibbled. A green-cheeked conure or two landed on me sometimes as well, but mostly the sun conures would approach me. The other birds in the room seemed to be more shy and would take off if I neared them. Oh, there was even a cute duck waddling around the room!

All in all, it was a wonderful and satisfying experience for the bird lover. There were no food or drinks other than small plastic bottles available if you wanted them, so customers could concentrate on interacting with the birds and taking photos. The staff were quite hands-off and didn't mind me snapping away :)

Asakusa streets at night. Somewhat empty on a weekday!
Just passing by Kaminari Mon :)
This pocket-sized little owl looked so sleepy and seemed to enjoy getting a head rub!
Little owl :)
Gorgeous Aplomado Falcon. A little shy, and seemed bothered by the squawking conures in the next room!
Common Kestrel.

Sun conures in the parrot room.
Friendly pair :)
Beautiful rainbow pattern :)
Hi there!
That looks like it feels good :)
So soft and fluffy!!

After everything though, this little guy is still my favorite :)