SUBMITTED BY HYLA ERNST
We are still waiting to find out (officially) where our next duty station will be, and we are getting more nervous/excited by the day. We’ve been telling ourselves that no matter where we end up, we’ll make the best of it. In an attempt to practice what I preach, I made a list of things I wanted to do in Fukuoka during my solo medevac trip to Fukuoka last week. It was for a follow up to my sleep study appointment last year, which I blogged about here, and I planned a few things I wanted to do with my free time before and after my overnight appointment. One of the things on my list was Owl Family Hakata, a café/petting zoo that allows you to hold and pet live owls.
Yep that’s me, holding a really big owl at Owl Family Hakata. Thanks to this funny YouTube video, I kept him well away from my eyes.
Getting to Owl Family Hakata was easy. It’s located in a covered shopping arcade right behind Kushida Shrine (Kushida Jinja if you’re asking a Japanese person). If you have access to Google Map, just type in Kushida shrine and you’re there! Kushida Shrine is located about 5 minutes by car from Canal City Mall, another major landmark in Fukuoka.
Visitors are allowed in every hour, on the hour, when they are open. Reservations are only taken the same day, according to their website. They do not have a phone number at the shop (I asked, and had a friend translate for me), only a cooperate number that doesn’t accept reservations. They also do not accept advance reservation, even if you are there to reserve it in person–I was trying to make a reservation for a friend.
The owls available for petting and picture taking are kept on short leashes tied to a post. Just to give you an idea of how short–these two owls were not able to reach each other. I know this because the big one was trying to attack the little one until the attendant had to adjust the rope.
The “resting” owls were kept in the same room, on metal shelves with patches of fake grass. Visitors can still get up close to take pictures, just not touch them. A snowy owl, normally found in the Arctic, sat nearby in a corner with a small fan blowing. It was bobbing up and down, looking slightly deranged.
I debated whether I was going to blog about Owl Family Hakata. On the one hand, I wasn’t really impressed with the owl café. On the other hand, I remember how curious I was to get information about this place to find out what it was all about. In the end, I decided to blog and let people decide for themselves whether this is this is something they want to do. Maybe seeing the pictures will be sufficient to satisfy their curiosity. My opinion: if you absolutely have to experience this, then do it when you’re going to Fukuoka anyway (not just make a trip ONLY for this). Otherwise, there are MUCH better places to interact with birds and animals in Japan, where you are allowed to touch and pet animals in a more natural habitat: Matsue Vogel Bird Park in Matsue, Kobe Animal Kingdom in Kobe, and Bio Park in Nagasaki are some of my favorites.
Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka, Japan
Cost: 1000 yen per person. Comes with one non-alcoholic beverage.
Hours: 12 PM – 8 PM
Phone Number (corporate number, not for reservations: 06-6360-6205