Japan is home to many unique animal experiences which often take place in a cafe. If you live in or near Zama, Sagamihara, or Atsugi you should check out these three animal encounters. Each animal experience was very family friendly and easy to navigate with the language barrier.
The Parrot Cafe is a tiny, tiny bird cafe found down a small street just off “Thousand Lantern Road” near Hosen yochien in Sagamihara. The outside of the cafe is colorful windmill with a notable sign. The cafe opens at 2:00 p.m., and it is within walking distance from SHA. I recommend walking from SHA as parking is very limited in this area. I would also suggest stopping in to book your slotted time. I found it to be the best way to communicate with the owner, who was super friendly and helpful. When you pay for your per person time to visit with the birds, you are able to choose a beverage per person.
You are also able to purchase food to feed the birds. The parrot cafe does not only have parrots but there are also doves, a toucan, and other smaller birds. The lady who owns the parrot cafe will provide you with gloves to hold the various birds, will tell you which birds are more friendly than others, and will bring different birds to you to hold. She will even show you how to play catch with the toucan.
Since the space is so small with very minimal seating, I would suggest going by yourself or with only one other person. When I took my girls, I brought them each separately. I really enjoyed having some one-on-one time with each girl.
Machida Squirrel Garden
The Machida Squirrel Garden is one of my favorite Japanese animal experiences. This was our first encounter with the Japanese unique animal experiences and I just couldn’t picture what a squirrel garden might look like. After visiting the squirrel garden, I totally get the saying, “only in Japan.”
When you first enter the park, there are enclosures filled with rabbits and guinea pigs. You can pay 100 yen for a small plate of food to feed the rabbits and guinea pigs through the fence. If you stick around long enough, you might even have an opportunity to hold them. There are also some other small exhibits in this section of the park.
After visiting the rabbits and guinea pigs, you’ll make your way through two sets of doors, this is to ensure the squirrels don’t escape, into the squirrel garden. The squirrel garden is very spacious with plenty of walking paths for the people and a lot of man-made houses for the squirrels to rest and play inside of them or on the outside of the structures.
At the entrance of the squirrel garden, you can grab a mitt and pay 100 yen for a packet of food to feed the squirrels as you walk around. You are not supposed to hold the squirrels but you place the food in your mitt-covered hand and extend your arm for the squirrels. However, while we were walking around, a couple of squirrels decided to jump onto me to eat the food.
There is a big paid parking lot across from the squirrel garden. Please visit this link for updated information about hours, entry fees, and visiting the squirrel garden facilities.
Rapace Owl Cafe
The Rapace Owl Cafe is in Machida too. While it is a small cafe, it has a few tables and seating at each table. When you pay for your entrance for an allotted time, you will also choose a beverage of your choice from their menu.
Once seated the employees provide you with a glove that covers your hand and arm to protect you while you are visiting with each of the owls. You are free to walk around the cafe to see the owls, but be aware that some of the owls are friendly than others. The employees will tell you which ones to avoid. They will also bring the owls to you to hold at the table.
While we were there, we also visited with a duck. Both girls really enjoyed the owls. Please visit this link for updated information about hours, entry fees, and visiting the owl cafe.