Following on from the popularity of “cat cafes,” where customers can play with resident felines while relaxing and having a cup of coffee, similar venues offering the chance to mingle with rabbits, goats and even owls have opened for business in the Tokyo area.

Among them, the Kiba branch of Tori no Iru Cafe (Cafe with Birds) in eastern Tokyo features some 20 birds, mainly owls. Roughly 90 percent of its customers are female, and long queues often form outside the shop on weekends.

“I am really fond of the contrast between the owl’s large bright eyes and its sharp beak,” said a female customer in her 20s who visits the cafe about three times a week. “I enjoy it here as I can actually touch (the owls).”

In addition to a Rufous-legged owl from South America, an Indian eagle-owl and other owl species, the cafe is also home to parrots and a hawk.

Patrons can enjoy coffee and light meals while watching the birds kept in another room separated by a glass window. With assistance from shop attendants, they can also put on a special falconry glove and have an owl perch on their hand or pat it in a designated corner of the cafe.

When the Tori no Iru Cafe opened in late 2012, there were hardly any other cafes featuring owls, but now there are at least around 10 in the Tokyo area.

“Some women are afraid of (the owls’) talons and beaks, but the owls are actually quite affectionate,” said the cafe’s manager, Mika Toriyama.

Similarly, cafes where customers can play with rabbits have also been on the rise in recent years.

Usagi Cafe Ohisama (Rabbit Cafe Sun) in a residential district of Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward is especially popular among women in their 20s to 30s, as well as families with young children. Its tables are often fully booked on the weekend.

While most pet cafes cater mainly to female customers, Sakuragaoka Cafe in Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya Ward is popular among young men taking a break at work or on their way home after a long day at the office. The main attraction is two goats kept in a small hut next to the entrance of the cafe, which customers can feed.

After opening in 2009 as an ordinary cafe, it introduced goats the next year. With their arrival, the number of customers doubled. Most customers are male company employees who work in the area.

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