One of the very last places that James and I got to visit before our Japan trip came to an end was the Tori no Iru Cafe, or Toricafe for short. It uses the same concept as the cat cafe that James and I visited, but this time we were given ponchos to wear instead of the soft slippers that we received at Mocha. Poop ponchos. Because this particular cafe is full of birds. And birds have extremely fast metabolisms. So fast that their average body temperatures are 106 degrees Fahrenheit! That equals a poo about every 15 - 20 minutes. Multiply that by the 50 or so birds that were in the room... you can imagine how glad we were for the ponchos.
The cost per person was 1500 yen for 60 minutes with the birds, or about $15.00 USD. Well worth it, if you ask me! The cashier area also held some gift items for purchase as well as a few owls that were perched away from all the ruckus in the parrot room. There was a double set of doors leading into the parrot area that made an airlock of sorts, so you had a chance to make sure you had no cling-ons on your way out. We could hear the chatter and squawking getting louder as we opened each door, and soon we were among them. James made the mistake of lifting his arms up scarecrow style to adjust his poncho and BOOM - he was covered in parrots that had come in for a friendly landing.
It would be a disservice to Toricafe to call it just a parrot cafe. It also housed ducks, toucans, a trumpeter hornbill who loved neck rubs, and a bright green turaco.
Being a bird owner, I was concerned that the birds would be stressed or in cramped conditions, but I was pleasantly surprised with the bird enclosure. All of the lights, wall outlets, electrical cords, and anything else that could be dangerous to a curious bird were covered over with safety grating. There were plenty of perches and corners that they could fly to that were out of reach from humans if they wanted a break. There was also an employee present in the enclosure at all times to make sure the birds weren't being harassed by the customers (luckily we had the place all to ourselves), and to monitor the food and water that the birds had. She also kept the poop cleaned up so that it didn't accumulate. None of the birds had broken feathers or appeared sick, and they were all fully flighted (no clipped wings!) so they could just enjoy being birds. The cafe also opens in the late morning or early afternoon (depending on the day) and stays open for only seven hours per day, so the birds have plenty of time to rest and wind down and aren't forced to be on display for people for excessive amounts of time. They need more sleep than you think.
And boy did these birds LOVE people!! They were all extremely friendly and at some points we each had about a dozen on us. They would land on your head and groom your hair, stand on your shoes to play with your shoelaces, snuggle up under your chin or ear, and chatter to you from your arm. There were a few long wooden benches in the enclosure for you to shuffle slowly over to and take a seat to just let the birds go crazy. Neither of us were bitten or lunged at, and lots of them were eager for head scratches and neck rubs. They were all extremely docile no matter how large they were or how intimidating their beaks looked. Neither of us were without a bird for the entire time, and that was by their own choice, not ours. James and I both agreed that this was the coolest place we went to on the trip and that we would definitely go again the next time we came to Japan. It will make you smile, even if you have never considered yourself a bird person. The only warning I can give is to wear shoes with laces you don't care about, as the birds WILL remove the clear plastic ends on them - they think they're not supposed to be there and they want to be helpful.
I grew up near a small city called Deer Park, they were actually the rivals to my high school. There weren't really any deer there, though. But there is at least one place in the world that has lots and lots of deer in a park - and that place is Nara, Japan!
Somehow the local park in Nara, called Nara Park...very clever...is full of small brown sika deer that love crackers. Specially made deer crackers, to be exact. They are sold in bunches of six for 150 yen, or about $1.50 USD. There are several vendors spread throughout the park that sell them, so you won't have to worry about running out. James and I tried one, and they seem to be made of something similar to Cornflakes cereal.
Now, there is something special about these deer. Somehow, at some point in time, they were taught to bow in order to receive a cracker. Now all of them do it and there is a trick to maximize your bowing experience. First, hold the cracker above their head and they will bow once. Then, bring the cracker around behind your back where they can't see it (beware of another one sneaking up from behind to steal it at this point!), and the deer will bow again. After the second bow, bring the cracker once again up above their head and they will bow a third time. At that point, they can be rewarded with the cracker.
It it was awesome to see this learned motion and the deer were very, very pushy, so be careful not to get caught in the middle of a herd of them or cornered by a male. James actually got headbutted in the back by a male for not getting a cracker out fast enough, so it may be something to be careful having small kids around for. The deer definitely rule the park and we're even seen across the street wandering around outside (and even inside) the local souvenir shops and food stalls.
Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm a car nut, bird lover, and musician. I have recently transitioned from music teacher to automotive service manager, and there have been lots of cool stories and crazy characters along the way!