Translated by Greg
Falconer's Cafe In Mitaka - Look At Hawks While You Sip Your Coffee!
Though there are plenty of cafes that feature rabbits and cats, one where customers can look at hawks and enjoy a cup of coffee, is highly unique. Today we introduce Falconer's Cafe in Tokyo's Mitaka area, the ideal place for bird lovers.
Written by Reiko Ichikawa
In many countries around the world since ancient times, people have teamed up with hawks for the purposes of hunting.
It's been said that the art of falconry started in Japan around the year 355. During that time the Japanese government set up a department called takakaibe, where falconers were responsible for training hawks and other birds of prey. These trained birds then apparently performed their duties on hunting grounds that were managed by the government.
Takasho, or falconers, who manage hawks and go hunting together with them, are still active even today. However for most of us nowadays, the only way to see a hawk in close proximity with our own eyes, is by going to a zoo.
But in Tokyo's Mitaka area, there's a cafe where you can see hawks up close while you sip a coffee.
Falconer's Cafe In Mitaka's Shimorenjaku District
The cafe we're going to introduce to you today is called Takashochaya, or Falconer's Cafe, and is located in a place called Shimorenjaku, just ten minutes from the Kichijoji area by bus. The district, which includes Inokashira Park, was formerly a place where the shogun (military commanders who ruled feudal Japan) practiced the art of falconry. The place name Mitaka was named after the Japanese word for hawk, taka.
Also, for fans of Japanese animation, we recommend stopping in at the Ghibli Museum which is inside Inokashira Park.
The interior of the cafe is decorated with motifs of hawks and other predatory birds. As you sit here and relax, you can see various hawks in a nearby space. The owner of Falconer's Cafe, who also keeps hawks, allows visiting falconers to bring their own predatory birds, which means if you're lucky you might be able to see someone else's birds here as well.
Hawks That Relax to Their Heart's Content
For many of you, your image of the hawk might be that of an extremely savage and fierce creature. However, the birds at this cafe have all been properly and thoroughly trained by their falconers. They are closely managed by the shop, so you can watch them without any worries.
In the small glass enclosed room next to the cafe, the hawks have made themselves at home and are relaxing. According to the shop staff, the hawks in the room change depending on the day. Taking photos of the birds is allowed, but the shop asks that you don't use a flash, don't wave your hands and don't do anything that might fluster and upset them.
Also regarding photo taking, please don't forget to first speak to a staff member or the owner, and get their permission beforehand. Touching the birds and feeding them is also prohibited.
A Place of Relaxation for Visiting Falconers
Falconer's Cafe has also been featured as a recommended cafe on Trip Advisor, a travel site that provides information on spots from around the world. There's no other shop that allows visitors to see various kinds of predatory birds and also enjoy an extensive food and drink cafe menu. By the way, some items of the cafe's menu have been named after various birds of prey, such as the Harris Curry (a predatory bird called Harris's hawk).
Also, the method in which hawks are bred and raised in other countries differs greatly from Japan. As a result, we hear that many falconers from outside Japan regularly visit the cafe.
On your next visit to Tokyo, by all means stop by this unique cafe and find out what all the fuss is about!
Address: Tokyo, Mitaka, Shimorenjaku 1-11-8
Holidays: Mondays, Tuesdays (but open on national holidays).
Wi-Fi: Not available
Credit cards: Not accepted
Language support: English (menu and warning notices inside the shop premises)
Information in other languages: English menu
Nearest station: Odakyu Bus-Shimorenjaku Bus stop
Access: 2 minute walk fromthe Shimorenjaku Bus stop
Cost: 550-1000 yen
For More on Unique Cafes in Tokyo:
Japanese Encyclopedia: Animal Cafe
Meet Little Birds in "Kotori Cafe", Omotesandō
Meet Owls In Kichijoji: Musashino Cafe & Bar Owl Village
Cat Cafe Temari No O-Uchi: A Visit to the World of Cats (Kichijoji)
3 Unique Cafes In Tokyo: Sleep In A Hammock And Solve Crime?!
Snuggle Up In A Warm Kotatsu At Cafe Stay Happy, Shimokitazawa