Bird cafes gaining popularity in Japan

JIJI

Bird cafes, where customers can interact with colorful parakeets, wise-looking owls or talkative parrots, are gaining popularity around the nation, especially with women.

Visitors to such cafes drink coffee or tea while viewing the birds either from behind glass or letting them sit on their shoulder.

Kotori Cafe, in the posh Minami-Aoyama district of central Tokyo, features some 25 birds, including budgerigars.

Kotori means little bird in Japanese.

As many as 150 to 200 customers visit Kotori Cafe on holidays, and some even line up outside before it opens.

Although the cafe charges extra for interacting with the birds, most customers choose to pay.

In 2016, Kotori Cafe opened outlets in the Shinsaibashi district in Osaka and in central Tokyo’s Sugamo neighborhood, bringing the total number to four.

“We’ve been invited to open branches and received inquiries about branch openings from all over the country,” said Shiho Kawabe, president of Kotori.

At Torinoiru Cafe, which in Japanese means a cafe in which there are birds, in Tokyo’s Kiba district, a chattering lory parrot greets customers by saying “konnichiwa” (hello).

At this cafe, customers can interact with parakeets at their table or take photographs in a room of owls.

Mika Toriyama, manager of the cafe, said, “We have a growing number of repeat customers, especially female customers, including people who stop by on their way home from work to play with their favorite birds.”

Because birds at these cafes have no contact with their brethren in the wild, they are at low risk of catching bird flu.

To ensure their customers are comfortable, bird cafes take particular care with sanitary conditions.

“We start cleaning three hours before opening time and give our shop a good airing to keep it free of odors,” Toriyama said.