Take a seat at a Tokyo cafe and the chair next to you might be occupied by a rabbit, snake, goat, cat, dog or even an owl.
The chance to get up close and personal with a variety of animals is one of the many attractions of visiting Japan. The weirder the better does it for me, so I headed off to a cafe where there are as many owls as there are people.
Akiba Fukurou is a popular spot to visit and visitors line up outside waiting for their hour of owl.
Although it's widely known as a cafe and looks like a cafe, the owner of Akiba Fukurou prefers to call it a relaxation space where visitors can interact with the owls and doesn't actually serve food or drink.
Once inside, guests take a seat and have the chance to meet the resident owls. There are about 20 owls ranging in size from petite to quite large. They don't seem terribly bothered by the people around them and some just chose to nap the hour away.
Guests are instructed not to disturb sleeping owls or those with signs that say "Please don't touch", but it's fine to touch the others. Stroking the owl's head, between the eyes, is recommended and seems to be quite enjoyed by the creatures.
After a while, the owner comes around and places an owl on your arm if you want to get a little closer to the creatures. I had some one-on-one time with Snowman who was happy to sit quietly and have his photo taken. I think he even smiled a little.
Not everyone was so lucky. Some of the owls couldn't settle and others left little messages on their human friend's clothing.
The owls are all rescue birds and have been collected by the owner over a long period because of his fascination with the creatures.
Although we were lucky and picked up a cancelation on short notice, you'll need to book ahead to visit the owl cafe.
The cafe is located a short walk from JR Akihabara Station and there are good instructions on the website to guide you there.
Bottom line: It costs 1,500 yen per person for a one hour visit.
Best tip: Take cash, they don't accept credit cards.
For more information visit Japan National Tourism Organisation.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled in Japan courtesy of the Japan National Tourism Organisation.