Posts Tagged ‘cafes’

The bird is the latest word in animal cafes

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eurasian_Eagle-Owl_Maurice_van_Bruggen.JPG

Whooo would like a cup of coffee?

 

For feline fanciers who aren’t allowed to keep pets at home, Japan has no end of cat cafes. But now bird lovers of a feather can also flock together at Tokyo’s new wave of cafes that host birds of prey. According to Daily Portal, this burgeoning trend started with Café Little Zoo in Chiba. A cafe that houses not only a number of owls and hawks outside its doors, but also reptiles within. Visitors to the cafe get to hold and pet the animals under the supervision of staff. The cafe is now so busy that groups of four or more are advised to make reservations.

Tori no Iru Cafe

Tori no Iru Cafe — where the birds are

Also taking reservations due to a flurry of recent media coverage is Tori no Iru cafe near Kiba station on the Tozai line. The shop is home to a Harris Hawk, a Eurasian Eagle Owl, parakeets, parrots and other birds.  Here too, customers are allowed to pet and hold the birds — while a staff member watches like a hawk, of course.

The manager, Ms. Toriyama,  opened the establishment after keeping birds as pets herself. Although she gushes in her  Daily Portal interview that owls are quiet and easy to take care of, a British charity called the Suffolk Owl sanctuary begs to differ. The sanctuary emphasizes that birds of prey are unpredictable creatures with sharp claws that do not take well to confined spaces. Indeed, according to the BBC, high numbers of owls were abandoned in the UK last year for just this reason, after the popularity of the Harry Potter films triggered a trend for keeping the birds as pets. All the more reason, perhaps, that owl-lovers might want to visit the birds instead of trying to keep them at home.

Fukuro no Mise (“owl shop”) near Tsukishima station has sweaters, cards and other goods shaped like or decorated with owls, as well as items to help you raise your very own owl at home. (However, the sanctuary recommends building an aviary to keep owls — we can’t help but wonder where a Tokyoite might find the space for one.) At Fukuro no Mise, just like at the other bird cafes, owls that have been raised in captivity to be docile can be held and petted for the price of a cup of coffee. Their talons are trimmed and their beaks are filed to reduce scratching.

At the Falconer’s Café in Mitaka, falconry enthusiasts bring their own birds to compare and contrast. The concept of this cafe is rather similar to dog cafes where dogs are not held captive within the cafe but brought along by their owners. Though Japan isn’t the most litigious of societies, bringing together small children and birds of prey doesn’t strike us as the brightest of ideas for a business. Smoothed claws aside, it might take just one nasty scratch or peck to ground this trend before it really takes flight — or at least to ruffle a few feathers.

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons.

Free lunch? Coming right up

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

dashi

Dashi for the taking

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

Dashi Cafe will open in Yurakucho on Oct. 1 serving free miso soup and onigiri. What’s the catch? Nothing, as far as we can tell, except maybe a little MSG. The place is sponsored by spice manufacturer Ajinomoto, whose flagship product is the flavor enhancer (and Japanese kitchen staple) MSG. They say they are working in cooperation with agricultural and fishing associations to assure high-quality domestic ingredients. The cafe is intended  to create a relaxing environment where women can enjoy all-you-can-eat helpings of miso soup and Japanese broth (rice balls are one to a customer) and relax a bit during the work day.

Tokyo Walker reported that the purpose of Dashi Cafe is to rekindle Japanese women’s interest in cooking these traditional foods. To that end, it will be women-only during hours when nearby office workers might sneak out for a quick bowl of soup, between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then open to all until from 3 until it closes at 7 p.m.

This is one in a series of unconventional projects by Ajinomoto designed to get women excited about cooking. You’ll recall their gyaru cooking keitai site for making cooking cuter and more fun.

This isn’t the first free cafe that’s popped up in the Ginza area. Harimaya Station opened about a year ago as a free cafe that showcased the company’s rice crackers. Shoppers could have a cup of tea or coffee and try one of each of several varieties of crackers for free, but it has since started charging ¥200 per drink. So if soup is your thing, check out Dashi Cafe before they change their minds.

Tokyo cafe entrepreneurs bring more to the table

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Sunday Issue

It’s a book corner, a lounge, a gallery: It’s the recently opened Sunday Issue

Would you like cinnamon, cocoa or a dusting of nail jewelry with your cappuccino? From innovative fitness classes to crossover art spaces, new Tokyo cafes are expanding the idea of what goes well with a cup of coffee.

Coffee shops with character have long been an institution in Japan, but  true cafe culture only started to take off about 10 years ago. While coffee chains are now as common as convenience stores and the  designer cafe boom  is still going strong, it appears that some café entrepreneurs are looking beyond java, jazz and scones and serving up some personality with a hobby or two on the side. And we’re not talking maid cafes and cat cafes.

Blurring the line between cafe and fitness center and between outdoors and in, “Wired Cafe <> FIT” opened this summer near Yoyogi Park. The gym part is an indoor/outdoor fitness center. Classes include jogging or Nordic walking in the park alone or in combination with stationary pursuits like yoga or tai-chi inside the studio. Online, their Twitter account and blog post updates (e.g. “Today’s running session is canceled due to bad weather” – bummer). They also have a streaming feed of the park to show the weather. Too hot? Too cold? Too… tired? Stop into the cafe in the same space instead and, you know, think about running. The cafe there offers dishes targeting those who try to stay healthy (dessert is zucchini bread) and, like all Wired Cafes, has wireless Internet access (despite the name).

For those who prefer to get their pulse rates up with more intellectual pursuits, Sunday Issue is a cafe/lounge/bar split into three spaces that merge into one another: a gallery, a book corner and a lounge bar. Gallery director Meg Ohta explains that the name and overall concept were inspired by the way a Sunday paper encourages readers to take the time to relax and spend time soaking in culture and the arts. The back room is a an eclectically curated collection of vintage books for sale or for browsing at the warmly lit table. The gallery space has rotating exhibits, both group and solo shows. The bar and cafe space at the front of the gallery is meant to encourage discussion through events like art talks and film screenings. And artists and authors who come in for events don’t just give talks, they take turns as guest bartenders. “People can talk to them directly over drinks,” Ohta explains. At an upcoming “Film Study Meeting,” the filmmaker-bartenders will hand out personalized movie recommendation cards free with a beverage. Sunday Issue is perched above fellow newcomer On The Corner, which draws the hungry Shibuya crowd with dishes like jambalaya and falafel and coffee by Bear Pond, a favorite among coffee connoisseurs.

Lavish, near Harajuku Station, is a colorful “self-nail” shop that “takes pride in being girly.” Patrons can decorate their own gel nails (under the watch of a supportive professional) at glass-covered shadow box tables while enjoying coffee and other drinks. Go easy on the joe, though – caffeine jitters do not a happy manicure make.

(Research assistance by Leena Salmela)

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