I went to an owl and hawk cafe in Tokyo called Hawkeye (facebook) or Taka no Me (鷹乃目). My friend Stella (who owns cutey Frances) asked me to go but I was busy the day she went and didn’t feel to enthused going to an owl cafe. I mean it’s original, right? But seemed expensive and stinky. It was the stinky part mainly that shied me away. I’ve gone to 5 different cat cafes in Tokyo and the odor ranges from nothing to cat lady house to hoarder.
But then I saw her pictures and how everyone had the best time so I blocked out some time to go.
So many owl cuties, so much derp.
It turns out Hawkeye was neither stinky nor expensive. It was probably the best 1,000 yen ($10) I’ve spent in Japan in ages. Anyone who I find out is going to Tokyo I tell them to go to Hawkeye. I even recommended it to my vet (who was going).
Hawkeye Cafe is located close to Asakusa Shrine and Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s within walking distance from Sky Tree.
A little Hawkeye Cafe background
It’s in a more residental quiet area and it’s run by Mr. Kawashima (jp interview here) who comes off as an ex-salaryman who quit and decided to follow his dream. He loves hawks and owls and will talk to you for as long as you want about them. You’ve just come into his land of dreams. He actually decided to open up the cafe because he loved parahawking. Parahawking combines training hawks to fly with you as you paraglide.
I didn’t even know such a cool thing was a thing.
From the Hawkeye website. Taking his owls for a day trip near Mt. Fuji to watch other parahawkers.
Inside the Owl and Hawk Cafe
Hawkeye Cafe is an actual cafe so once you enter you’re greeted by a super friendly hostess and a bar with stools for coffee or tea. The bar is quite different because it faces owls. Your 1,000 yen price comes with a drink which you can choose to take either before or after.
The cafe has only a few rules: no flash photography because it upsets the birds, no food or drink inside the owl & hawk area and wait for instructions on who to pet. That’s it.
Of course I said I’ll have my drink later, I’m seeing some owls!
It looks like a painting, right? They’re actually alive and in front of you.
The reason I mentioned Mr. Kawashima earlier is he loves to tell all his stories and they are good stories about the owls.
On the left is Lady Gaga a barn owl. Lady Gaga is the only owl that gets free reign anytime customers are in because she loves the owl on the right. On the right is Ta-chan who is a large Eagle Owl. He’s gigantic in person and when you enter your eyes are drawn to him. The rest of the owls fear and hate Ta-chan because he’s so big. When the owner brings him near the smaller owls they squawk and puff up as big as they can (which is hilarious and the owls calm down immediately). But Lady Gaga loves him and Ta-chan doesn’t mind Lady Gaga. Awwww owl slash.
I’m holding an owl!
Once you break the feeling of shock of being surrounded by tons of owls who look almost fake because they’re so fluffy and puffy and and giant eyed, you can hold them the small guys. Or they can hold onto you. Depending how comfortable you are with them Mr. Kawashima will just keep putting owls on you.
It’s a shock holding them because they’re calm and sweet and they weigh absolutely nothing. I know your brain works out that of course for something to fly it needs to be light but actually holding them it’s like soft fluffy air. And they like being stroked on their back. So you can hold and pet all you want.
but then there’s the Hawks.
My friend Cassie and her great picture of the hawk.
You get a falconry glove. You’re holding a hawk.
Hawk town. I’m in it.
Man hawks are cool and I learned so much.
That beak looks menacing but it can’t do much. They only catch prey with their feet. Mr. Kawashima was trying to train one of the hawks (there are four!) so he was tossing it meat and teaching it how to catch with its feet. He said hawks are like dogs while owls are more like cats. In my short time with them it felt that way.
I was quite in awe on the hawk side of the area. They’re trained to stay in the area but it’s an openish space. Hawks weighed a bit more, but it could’ve been the giant leather glove. Mr. Kawashima went glove free.
Hawk side profile realness
Back on the owl side there’s one extra fluffy owl that only ladies can pet. #patriarchydefeat
And seriously look at that flatfaced puff that is the most pettable thing ever.
You’re a lady, you shall pass.
I have accepted you, madam. Reminds me of Mogwai from Gremlins.
All the owls are awesome and cool, but he got little crocheted hats for the little ones to wear. Luigi owl. Goddamn Japan.
He looks like a little train conductor. If Japan can make a cat a station chief then a small town definitely needs to one-up with an owl chief.
And now owl gratuitous photos.
So many owl types to love.
So about the owl restroom breaks, they just go off the back of their perches onto newspaper. It’s behind you and them and not where anyone steps. They don’t poop much or often because most of them weigh a pound or so. I noticed no smell and I’m very smell picky.
The trip changed my views on two animal species and made me love both. I had lovely conversations with both Mr. Kawashima and his owl cafe hostess who was a lover of the tv show “White Collar” and the new series “Dallas”, random but… okay. Meeting people who are passionate at what they do even if you are not passionate about it, they draw you to them and make you like their passion.
I really really recommend visiting Hawkeye, you’ll have a wonderful time and have tons of memories. I’m so ready to go back!!
Directions to Hawkeye
Hawkeye Cafe address is: 1-8-9 Sumida, Tokyo 130-0002
Here’s some simple google directions from Tokyo Sky Tree or you can alternatively access it from the Oshiage station via the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line or the Asakusa Line.
Just a five minute walk through a residential area. Simple and easy to get to. They’re open from 1:00-9:00 on all days but Thursdays and Mondays are closed.