Monday, October 13, 2014
Happy October at the Owl Cafe
Something about Harry Potter always feels pretty Halloweeny to me- I know it's obviously about witches and wizards and magic and castles and and boasts plenty of dark and gothic scenery/vibes etc- that seems fairly quintessentially Halloween. You get broomsticks, you get scary bad guys in hooded cloaks, you get giant monstrous spiders, you get ghosts and their death day parties, reanimated corpses, and some pretty dark magical murders. When October rolls around I always find myself wanting to plough through all the books and movies to 'get in the spirit' of the Holiday. This year I'm multitasking by listening to the books on tape while I knit so I can hopefully finish my mustard sweater in time to wear it for this season.
I think I just really love immersing myself in the atmosphere of JK Rowling's world. She's so wonderfully descriptive and ever since I started reading the series when I was 11 I've always loved the imagery of the huge sprawling maze of an old castle, lit by candles and torches and filled with friendly ghosts and secret passageways and hidden nooks and crannies and the most interesting magical secrets. The movies did a great job of bringing it all to life, and I especially love the festiveness at Halloween that comes across in both the books and the movies with all the beautiful ambient decorations and perfect setting.
Another thing I always found charming about this wizarding world was the humans' relationship with magical creatures- especially owls. As a kid I was always obsessed with animals and wanted to be surrounded by as many pets as possible, and longed to befriend all kinds of wild animals, I was totally enthralled by the idea of having this cute little best friend owl that would be free to fly around but would always come back because of this special loyal bond. When I got wind that Tokyo had opened a few owl cafes, I felt like it would be the perfect festive October outing. And I even still had my gryffindor scarf...
So when I was researching owl cafes, I knew I really wanted to visit one that had a barn owl. Barn owls have been one of my very favourite animals for a long time- like, my patronus would definitely be a barn owl. There used to be a pair that lived in the old wood barn on the farm property belonging to my....I think it was great uncle? Whenever we would visit my grandpa's cabin in central Utah, we would always stop at the farmhouse and barn on the way up the mountain. I loved watching the barn owls swoop in and out of the rafters and sleep huddled up together in the old wood beams. I thought their faces were the cutest thing, and they've aways seemed kind of ghostlike to me. I found this cafe called Cafe Baron, named after Baron, the owner's barn owl, and it was the best fit for what I was looking for.
The cafe was small, quiet, and simple, tucked away in a little side street in Koenji, a cutesy suburb in Tokyo. The owner was very kind and soft spoken, and you could tell he loved and had a great relationship with his two owls. He had them trained super well, and you could barely even feel their touch while holding them- they gripped so gently with those sharp talons. The great grey owl was hilarious- he kept hopping from chair to chair in big awkward leaps, and when he walked along the floor his movements looked like some comical puppet come to life. I was pretty excited because he was the same type of owl as Errol, Ron's owl in Harry Potter. You might recognize that cartoony feathered face from the movies. He was a very curious guy, and a lot of fun to watch. We ordered hot drinks in cute wooden owl mugs with owl biscuits and a mont blanc (chestnut cream) pastry. The quality of the drinks and treats were top notch and really exceeded our expectations. We thoroughly enjoyed the flavours, and appreciated that nothing was too sweet.
Baron the barn owl had me captivated as soon as we came in the door with his adorable charming little face, huge round eyes, and peaceful demeanor. He would hang out sometimes on a perch or a shelf, or a shoulder, and then suddenly and completely silently drift off to a new location when he got bored- and seeing him swoop and fly back and forth was stunning. I could have stayed all day watching him and enjoying lovely owl themed treats, and I'll certainly be back.
Happy October and Halloweeny Times!
Posted by Kitsune-kun at 11:02 AM