Let’s address the coffee first. It’s as good as anything you’ll get from a convenience store, which is to say it’s not good. At all. The only beer on offer is Budweiser — also known as “The King of Beers.” It’s not. Budweiser wouldn’t even make it past the moat for a royal gathering of beers. There’s no food at Owl Cafe. Probably for good reason, because if there was, I imagine the flock of birds would be owl over it.

There is precedence in Japan for creature-themed cafes: cats, dogs, rabbits and now owls. Waiting in line at Osaka’s Owl Cafe I felt like I stood out. To make matters worse, everybody else was either on dates or with best friends — I came alone. Visits are timed and start every hour on the hour. They last for about an hour, during which you can handle or pet a variety of owls that collectively look bored or sleepy. All the owls are tethered, and except for Shi-chan, a large Siberian owl, it’s possible to hold them, pet them and even have them perch on your head. The staff are eager and the owls are willing, mostly. Mind you, while I was holding Elbow, a Bengal eagle owl, one of the wee owls answered the call of nature on a customer.

In our selfie-obsessed age I can see why owl cafes might be a hoot. I’m not sure, however, if they’re the best way to forge a connection with our feathered friends.

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