Originally my plans for today were a visit to the observatory on top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, stop by a café, visit the Ueno Park, and stop by Shibuya Crossing. Well, the weather today kind of knocked out two of those things. I realized I wouldn’t be able to see much of the city from the observatory, although I understand that on a clear day you can see Mount Fuji! And walking around a garden in the pouring rain just didn’t really appeal to me. So, I adjusted my plans; you have to do it sometimes.
Now, I had heard of “Cat Cafés” before I came to Tokyo; these are shops that usually sell some drinks, like coffee and beer, and have a bunch of cats. You get to hang out with the cats, pet them, and generally love up on them. But the other day when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my extra time today I came across another type of café, and I knew I wanted to find one!
To get to the café I had to take a couple trains to the Harajuku part of the city. The café was off a small side street just across from the Harajuku Station, a path that lead me in front of this store dedicated fully to rhythmic gymnastics. I don’t know why, but that struck me as both weird and impressive.
But I digress… the point is that I went to an owl café! AN OWL CAFÉ! So, here’s how it works, you can make a reservation on line, or just walk in like I did. I got a half hour session which cost about $12.25 and included a water. They also have hour long sessions that get you a real drink. So, you sit down and get your drink and read the rules, then your host takes you into the owl room. There she introduces you to all the owls and give instructions on how to pet them. For instance, the large owls liked to be petted on the head and down the back, while the barn owl like to have their faces rubbed, and the tiny one really likes to have his ears massaged. And then you get to pet them. And let me tell, you they are so soft!
If you want to, you can hold an owl or two. They give you a protective glove so you don’t have to worry about their talons. The first one I held was Haku, one of the barn owls. I think barn owls are so pretty! It was amazing to see one so close up! And while I was holding her, she stretched out her wings. So cool!
Next, I held one of the larger owls named Kuk. I was a little worried about holding him because the host said he was a grumpy bird. But he turned out just fine! And his eyes were so striking!
My time was up after that, but it was a really cool experience. It is not something I ever imagined I’d get to do!
On my way back to the train station, I stopped by a shopping street called Takeshita. This street is full of all kinds of interesting shops. For instance, I saw a shop that was just dedicated to selling colored contact lenses. And a giant candy store. I decided to go into a sock store, because I love me some cute socks! Plus, they were having a sale.
Back on the train I went just one stop to Shibuya Station and walked about five minutes to Shibuya Crossing. Shibuya Crossing is a huge intersection in the business area of the city. It is notable because when it’s time for the pedestrians to cross they walk all different ways through the middle of the intersection. It’s called a “scramble crossing”. I was there in the middle of the day, but during rush hour the whole intersection will be packed with people moving across the streets.
Here is a picture of another scramble crossing not too far away. You can see that the crosswalks go every which way!
Also, at Shibuya crossing is the statue of Hachiko. Hachiko was an akita dog that lived in the 1920’s and 30’s. The story goes that Hachiko’s owner was a professor at the University of Tokyo, and everyday Hachiko would walk with him to the train station to see him off to work, and then meet him at the end of the day. One day Hachiko’s owner died of a cerebral hemorrhage while at work. For more than nine years Hachiko would return to the train station each day at the time that his master was supposed to arrive. He became a symbol of loyalty to the people of Tokyo.
I ate lunch in the Shibuya area. Hey, don’t judge me! I know this doesn’t have MSG in it!
After looking at a few more shops, I caught the train back to my hotel. My feet were soaking wet, but I’m happy. It was really a fun day, and always neat to get to do something so unique!
I have to get my bags packed up tonight, because tomorrow morning I fly out for Hong Kong!