Our Visit to the Famous Kitsunemura (Fox village) in Japan

Kitsunemura, 蔵王キツネ村 or Fox Village near Zao in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan is now world famous thanks to bloggers, so naturally it was on the top oIMG_1519f our Japan bucket list when we learned we were moving here.

Mainland Japan has 4 seasons, the best being fall and spring. Summer is hot and humid. Winter is okay, but I don’t particularly like being cold.

For us, a well-timed trip is key to our overall experience. Making the journey only to find that you’re either too early or too late to see the seasonal flowers or trees kind of puts a damper on the trip’s mood, so I’ve been faithfully checking the foliage reports in Miyagi and Twitter posts from that area for the past month to see what the trees looked like.DSC_1231


I finally found a US holiday that aligned with the foliage up north’s schedule (the leaves turn later the farther south you go), so we took the
opportunity and went.

We decided to drive, which was about 3.5 hours and cost 8212 yen going there, and 7630 yen coming back on the toll roads.

If you decide to take the shinkansen it will be much more expensive, but that’s up to you. You’ll need to arrive at Shiroishizao Station and take a cab to the village. Just spend a few minutes googling and you’ll find several articles that provide detailed instructions on how to get there by train.

DSC_0941With only a week’s notice, I was fortunate enough to find  a very nice, reasonably priced ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with an in-room hot spring and included breakfast, which allowed for my husband and I to enjoy onsen together.

DSC_0965I’ve been told by Japanese people that it is very rare to find a mixed-gender public hot spring (onsen) these days, so I thought it was a nice luxury that we should try.

The breakfast at the ryokan was delicious, the onsen made our skin feel unbelievably smooth, and the crisp mountain air made for a refreshing break from our fast-paced Tokyo lives.

I wish we could have stayed longer. Or that we could go every month. Or.. just live there.


The staff members at both the ryokan and the fox village were very kind and accommodating. Granted, we communicated in elementary Japanese, so I can’t speak to how well they could assist foreigner guests.

I’m not sure about the hotel, but I know that kitsunemura has seen many, many foreign guests over the years.

If you speak zero Japanese, just be prepared to try to use hand gestures, writing, or however else you can think of to communicate if you find that the staff member you meet doesn’t speak or understand much English.

Kitsunemura has over 100 wild foxes living in a large, open space with plenty of room to hide, play, eat, and sleep. They also have a small petting zoo with lots of rabbits, some minature horses, a few crows (?), guinea pigs, and small goats.

There has been some visitors who felt the animals were not well taken care of, but when I was there clean water was abundant, the animals all looked happy and those who were awake were curious, wild, and playful with one another.

I feel like the staff at kitsunemura aim to take excellent care of all of their animals. and I was pleased with the experience.

Overall… 10/10.  We both really enjoyed the ryokan and onsen, and who couldn’t enjoy watching wild foxes play and lounge in a large, natural habitat? 

The logistics, you ask?

Total run down:

Tolls: 15,842 yen. About 3.5 hour drive from northwest Tokyo.

Gas: ~ 8,000 yen

Hotel: ~21,000 yen

Kitsunemura: 2,000 yen + 400 yen fox cuddle experience

Omiyage (souvenirs): 1,500 yen

Meals/road trip snacks: ~4,000

And now, for adorable kitsune (fox) pictures! (mix of iphone and dlsr that my husband and I took)

Just click the thumbnail to view the full image.



My First (and Last) Time to Skydive

In August I had the opportunity to use an event credit I had with a local adventure club, so I decided to use it towards skydiving.

Yes, skydiving.

It has been on my bucket list since I was in middle school, and even though I’m terrified of heights I thought I should do it if I had the chance.

The problem is that my husband exceeds the height and weight limit of skydiving companies here in Japan, so I had to go it alone.

Even though I really wanted him to be there I thought it would be no big deal to go by myself. We had just climbed to the top of Mount Fuji 2 weeks before, so I was sure this would be easy.

Except, it wasn’t. The whole language barrier thing kind of poses a big problem when you’re about to jump out of a plane at about 4,000 meters.

The day started by all of the club members arriving at Fujioka station early in the morning. This is a very small station and the closest store is about a 10 minute walk. It was so early that the store wasn’t open yet, so I started walking around foraging  for breakfast.IMG_0792

Luckily I was able to meet and talk with an older couple who owned a hardware store. My Japanese speaking ability is intermediate, but I was able to ask them if they had any snacks for sale.

Instead they gave me a bag of pastries and snacks and wouldn’t let me pay them. I told them I was skydiving that morning and they wished me good luck and sent me on my way.

I ran back to the station so I could be sure to catch the shuttle to the jump site and made it just in time.

So, we arrive to the site and we get the safety briefing in English. No problem. All of that was very clear.

What wasn’t clear is what would happen once inside the plane and how it would happen. You know, the logistics of who would go first and whatnot.

They were doing back to back jumps that day, so while everyone else was geared up and in the plane I was standing out waiting on my teacher to parachute down, unhook from the last jumper, and hook on to me.

By the time my teacher hit the ground he literally ran to me, strapped my to his chest, and threw me on the plane- no introductions, nothing.

What I didn’t realize (and nobody told me) was that since I was the last person on the plane I would be first one off.

So, we’re up in the air. It’s a hot summer day. We’re all sweating and terrified. I’m sitting on a stranger’s lap and he’s trying to point out mountains and such as we rise higher and higher in this little tin can of a plane.


About this time I’m thinking “hm, maybe I can still change my mind?” but at that same time my teacher threw the plane door open.

What happened next was somehow both simultaneously instant and in slow-mo. The door flew open. I’m thinking “oh, that’s a nice view” but then I realize he’s PICKING ME UP. I guess I’m supposed to be moving by myself at this point but I’m frozen and confused since I didn’t know I was going first.

He sits me on the edge of the plane. I still don’t know what’s happening. Then he throws us out the door. Untitled

My stomach goes up into my lungs. Then I realize I’m seeing the sky. I shouldn’t be seeing the sky. For several days after I thought we were having trouble in the air,  but now I think he was just trying to have fun with me. I was not having fun.

So, after what felt like 5 minutes of facing the sun he jerks my pack and throws me so that I’m under him, facing the ground.

Untitled3By this point I’m already confused about what just happened, it’s hot and muggy, and I’m free falling from 4,000 meters. There really is nothing like feeling the wind hitting you was you plummet towards the earth.

When our neon-green chute caught air we both jerked up  and thought I was going to vomit. But luckily that feeling didn’t last long.

The view parachuting down was nice. However, my teacher thought it would be fun to do some kind of turning left-to-right action, which I had to ask him nicely not to do because I already felt quite sick. IMG_0806

I was so thankful to hit the ground. Everyone else on the trip seemed to have a blast, and I’m glad they did. I, on the other hand, had a headache for the rest of the 1.5 hour train ride home and felt shaky for the rest of the day…but I did it!

I can attest that the sights, sounds, and feelings were certainly unique and something I will always remember, but once was enough for me.

What was the craziest/most adrenaline pumping thing you’ve ever done?

Our First (and Maybe Last) Time to Climb Mount Fuji

My husband and I just did something pretty crazy. We climbed Mount Fuji and reached the summit.

While many people reach the summit each year, this is a big deal because we’re city people.  We’re not outdoorsy. I’m from Arkansas, but have never been camping besides 1 time as a kid, and I didn’t even stay the night.

Needless to say I don’t really do “the great outdoors.” I’m moderately healthy and active, but am recovering from cancer. I exercise and eat well, but I have some obvious health conditions that could have kept me from making it to the top.  David’s much more capable of physical activity and roughing it than I am.

So, that’s who we are and how untrained we are, and here’s our guide on how we climbed Mount Fuji and reached the summit.

How it happened

We had gone back and forth about climbing Fuji. We wanted to do it last year- our first year in Japan- but my cancer diagnosis last summer kept us from climbing since Fuji is only open for climbing in the summer months.

This summer rolled around and David and I had talked more about climbing Fuji. First we planned to go with friends. Then one of my hiker-enthusiast friends suggested I try a shorter 3-4 hour hike. She went with me on my first hike ever at Mount Mitake and wasn’t thrilled about the whole hiking thing (it was a nice place and I had fun with my friends). I’m just not into summer hiking in the humidity.

David and I stopped talking about Fuji after that. Even so, I started doing some stair climbing pretty regularly in addition to other exercise, because I had a feeling we would do what we always do and say “oh, let’s just do it and get it over with.”

And that’s how it happened. We picked a date and I booked a trip with our local military outdoor center so we’d be able to take a bus there and back, get cheap rental gear, and go with strangers. We didn’t know how we’d react to the challenge, so if it resulted in us being hot, tired, and grumpy we didn’t want our mild-mannered friends to see us like that.

In the end, we did it. We reached the summit through determination, pacing ourselves, and supporting one another. It was something that was nice to say we did, but we’d never do it again. Cool experience, and great for team building and such, but for us it was a “one and done” kind of thing.

Before the climb

You’re reading this because you’re either a regular reader (thank you!), or you’re interested in climbing Fuji (thank you!) I’m going to give you a run down of what I saw, what I did, and what worked for me.

I did a great deal of research on climbing Fuji before our climb date. I spent a lot of time reading both official website and personal blogs because I wanted to see what people of all shapes, sizes, and physical conditions said about their experience. I was particularly concerned about my health and endurance post-cancer, so I was looking for as many personal stories as I could find.

Unfortunately I didn’t find many guides, just mostly ” what not to do” in the form of people’s failed ascent stories.

From my experience, being prepared is critical to a successful climb- both physically, mentally, and supply-wise.

  • Research the different paths, too. We took the yellow route, the Fuji-Subaru line trail. We didn’t have an option, this was the route that our group guide chose. This is supposed to be the easiest path, though, so it’s worth noting.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol 24 hours before.
  • Tape up your feet with mole skin- the toes, sides of your feet, and heels.
  • Pack your gear, then make sure you have the bare minimum. You can buy water if you drink all of ours.
  • Be mentally prepared to make it to the top, but accept it if your body won’t let you. Don’t be too hard on yourself.


Here’s the supply list that was given to us with a few additions from me:

  • Thick soled hiking boots (casual shoes or trainers are not a good idea, in my opinion)
  • Long sleeved wicking shirt
  • Compression socks-wicking
  • Compression leggings- wicking
  • Wicking shirt
  • Medium size backpack
  • Lightweight rain gear
  • Warm/light fleece jacket
  • Headlamp with extra batteries (if climbing at night)
  • Gators
  • Trekking poles
  • Hat (with visor)
  • Small hand towel
  • Utility gloves (for climbing the vertical rock walls-wicking is best)
  • Water bottle or hydration system (i.e. Camelback)
  • Water (at least 2.0 liter)
  • Light meals (beef jerky/protein, etc.)
  • Aspirin
  • Small First aid kit (some adhesive bandages and ace bandages)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • 3 folded up plastic bags (to keep your things dry & for trash)
  • Small roll of toilet paper
  • Blister kit with moleskin and scissors to cut the moleskin
  • Change of socks
  • Oxygen can
  • Wet tissue (to clean your face after the descent- dust gets EVERYWHERE!)
  • Cotton surgical mask (when dust rises on the descent)
  • Watch & cell phone
  • Camera
  • Map
  • Money for stamps on your hiking stick (each station’s stamp costs at least 300 yen) plus food, souvenirs, etc. I think we took about 30,000 yen (and as many 500 yen coins as we could).

We brought everything on this list except the gator boot covers (wish I had rented them- they’d keep the rocks out of your boots on the descent).

We used everything on this list except for the toilet paper, rain gear and warm jacket. Our long sleeve UnderArmour and gloves were enough for both of us.

I strongly suggest you pack all of these items, and be sure to keep your pack as light as possible. Around 5 pounds was what we were told to pack, but I forgot to weigh it before.

  • As far as food goes- we packed high calorie protein bars and those squeezeable protein gel pouches.
  • Packing your backpack correctly is important, too. I highly recommend a hiking pack instead of a regular backpack because a hiking pack is set up with a ton of pockets and easy to access hooks and pouches.
  • Put the protein meals and yen (to pay for burned stamps on your hiking stick, and other incidentals) in the pockets on your waist belt or shoulder straps for easy access.
  • Put your first aid kid (bring scissors!) in an easy-to-access area. Same with your map, phone, sun screen, and oxygen can. You want to be able to get to these things without taking your pack off, if possible.


I think that getting to the summit was more mental, than physical. I saw several fit-looking young men turn around at the 8th station.

I’m sure there are plenty of other tips from real hikers….but as a semi-athletic non-hiker this is what worked for me.

  • What you want to do is pace yourself and take your time. If you don’t make it to the top, that’s okay. You don’t want to over do it and you don’t want to get altitude sickness. Pushing yourself makes altitude sickness worse and you need to turn around immediately if you feel lightheaded, get a headache, or feel nauseous.
  • Stop for a rest when you need it, but try not to sit down and try to keep it under 5 minutes. We found that stopping for 1-2 minutes frequently helped us regain the strength to keep going.
  • You also want to climb and descend, when possible, in a zig-zag. Instead of walking straight ahead, you zig-zag in a wide pattern and you do it slowly.
  • I don’t know why this works, but I met a elderly man on the mountain who told me he climbs twice a year and he taught me this method. I had heard about it before from my hiking-enthusiast friend, but totally forgot about it and had never done it before until this kind man showed me.
  • When you climb stairs or the rock climbing section of the trail you want to alternate legs that you push yourself up onto.
  • Hydrate. Drink water when you stop for a rest. Even though I drank probably 2 liters of water I didn’t have to use the bathroom until the 7th station on my descent. Your body will thank you for staying hydrated!
  • The trekking poles make hiking SO much easier. Get them if you can.
  • From the 7th station to the 8th station it is about 2 hours of vertical rock climbing. Literally. You’ll need gloves and hiking poles. Sometimes I got so tired that I just climbed with my hands, and that’s okay, too.
  • At the summit you can see several souniveer shops and little resturants. We ate udon at the summit and got a few flags for our hiking stick. They offered to stamp the date on the flags, so that was pretty cool!
  • You can even what is probably one of the world’s highest vending machines and post offices there at the summit.


For me, this was the hardest part. My husband said it was difficult, but not painful like it was for me.

You’ll need your mask or towel here, the dust stirred up by other hikers is very thick. Just a heads up, when you get home you’ll find it in your nose, ears, and hair.

I was wearing rented hiking boots that were fine on the way up (I got a blister around the 8th station, but mole skin did the trick and I didn’t feel it after that). But, on the descent this was a different story. Even though the ends and sides of my toes were taped up very well, the descent wrecked my toes.

The descent is at a steep slope of lava rock from the summit to the 6th station. Some of the slopes had some soft grey rock, and that was easier on my toes because I could dig my heel into it, but the majority was this awful, hard, slippery red lava rock that provided zero comfort.

My toes keeps hitting the ends of the boots with each step. I tried side stepping and zig-zagging, but it didn’t bring any relief to my pain.

In the end I hobbled pathetically down from about the 9th station to the 6th station. My husband carried my pack from the 7th station on, and our guide realized that at my pace I was going to miss the bus. We said that was okay, and that we’d just get a hotel and stay somewhere…but he ran to the base of the 6th station and found some horsemen with ponies I could ride.

It cost something like 16,000 yen (about $130 usd), but I was no longer in pain and it was well worth it. David couldn’t open his wallet fast enough, and I got a pony ride out of the deal… so it wasn’t all bad.

It’s the morning after our trek now, and while my toes and legs hurt I’m not as exhausted as I expected. I kind of expect it to catch up to me tomorrow..but as of right now this semi-capable 14 month-post cancer patient is doing okay. My husband took the day off, but still went to the gym to lift weights. So, that’s how a perfectly healthy person feels the next day.

Final Notes

Just do your research. Take it easy. Respect the mountain, and listen to your body. If you ever climb Fuji, I hope you have a good experience!

Also, please donate 1,000 yen (less than $10 USD) when you see the little booth by the horse pen at the 5th station. It goes to the conversation of Mount Fuji and I heard that many foreigners aren’t donating in recent years. You get a cool button showing you donated and the year, and a free 3-day wifi passcode that works on top of the mountain!

Update: 2 months have passed, and the worst thing that happened to me was that I lost 4 toenails due to the injury I sustained on the descent. We have also been talking about maybe hiking again next year… so…we will see what happens!

A Foreigner’s First Concert in Japan

Last weekend David and I attended our first concert in Japan- the Sekai no Owari Twilight City tour in Yokohama. Much to my surprise the whole concert process is pretty different than all the concerts we’ve been to in the states. In the states when you want concert tickets you have a few methods of getting them:

  • winning them (free) in a contest
  • getting them through a fan club membership
  • buying them from the artist’s recommended venue
  • buying them from a ticket broker like Ticketmaster
  • buying them from individuals

It’s somewhat similar here in Japan, but we had some hurdles. First off, we don’t speak and read enough Japanese to buy tickets from auction sites or individuals. Second, we don’t have a Japanese bank account or credit card, so we can’t easily pay for them on said auction sites or from said individuals. This really limited our ticket buying options.

Getting Tickets: Japan has this really interesting lottery system that they use for many different things, including concert tickets. Each convenience store chain hosts a specific concert/artist. In our case we wanted to see Sekai no Owari. Lawson was the chain hosting their ticket lottery.

To enter the lottery you have to have a membership point card (at least you did for Lawson). Considering I don’t have a Japanese name it was a little difficult, but I just made it work on the online form. After you get a membership card it’s time to enter the lottery. You have to put your name, number of tickets, and date you want in the drawing. For really popular groups you can only enter once, so ask your Japanese or expat friends to enter their names in the lottery, too- but have them read the rules. For our show if you won you weren’t required to pay for them- no credit card was needed, but a friend did this for another band and ended up winning the lottery for 2 different shows. She had to pay for both sets of tickets! Luckily she was able to sell them.

Then you wait a month or so to find out if you won. We didn’t win with our entry, but my friend got the email that she (I) had won.

Winning the Ticket Lottery: Next you have to take the ticket lottery conformation number and go to your local convenience store and use their electronic transaction machine to get the placeholder tickets. These transaction centers can do much more than confirm event tickets, you can pay bills and utilities through them, too.


These are just placeholder tickets- no seat numbers listed!

There was no English option, so the helpful clerk typed in all the information for me after my 4th failed attempt at retrieving the paper ticket stubs. I finally got it printed out. Then you take it to the register and pay for your tickets. That’s right. You won the lottery, but it’s not free. You just won the right to have guaranteed seats. The tickets that print out don’t even have the seats on them. You could get amazing floor seats, or you could get nosebleed seats… that’s part of the lottery-ness of it all.

Going to the Concert:


Sekai no Owari Twilight City set

Then you wait some more. You wait and you wait and you wait until about 2-3 weeks before the concert when your actual tickets arrive. Mine arrived to my friend’s house, because they were linked to her membership rewards card and online account. I anxiously waited to find out what the seat numbers were. Would we get lucky with those, too? Based on the online seating chart our seats weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible. We had our tickets and the day of the event finally came around. We had no idea what to expect at the venue, so we arrived about 4 hours early. In the future we could probably arrive 1.5-2 hours early.

There were a lot of similarities to US concerts, like the huge crowds and long lines- especially for the women’s bathroom. There were some differences, too. At this show the concession food was reasonable, maybe only $1.00 more than what it cost outside the arena. It might have been because this band had a theme relating to local festivals, and food at matsuri (festivals) are usually quite cheap.

Whatever the reason, for the first time I didn’t have to pay over $4.00 for bottled water! I also noticed that there was a lot of cosplay. I mean, a lot. There was also a ton of young guys and girls doing “twin style”- where friends dress alike. Twin style is really huge in Tokyo right now, so seeing it wasn’t a big shock. Seeing so many people in cosplay did surprise me, though, especially considering that it was such a hot day. Some people had very elaborate and heavy costumes on.


Sekai no Owari Twilight City show

Another difference was that people picked up after themselves. In Japan, everyone is expected to pick up their trash, so people had little plastic bags to put their trash and bottles in. In America most people leave their concession trash under their seats if they can get away with it. Something else that stood out to me was that when the crowd went to clap along to the music…everybody was in time with each other. In America you hear all sorts of off beat, out of sync clapping, but I didn’t notice it at all in our area.


Japanese crowds clap in time!

And what about an encore? They do it here, too…. except it’s more polite. In the states we all chant “encore, encore!,” but at this concert the crowd sang a sweet sounding song that I couldn’t catch all the words of except for “one more time.” Everyone was singing this nice, polite song asking the artists to come out and sing once more- and they did. And it was fantastic. If I didn’t hear Dragon Night I thought I was going to go crazy, but luckily it was part of their encore.   Overall, it was a great first experience, but we couldn’t have done it without the help of our Japanese friends.


Have you gone to a concert in Japan? Did you find the food to be more expensive than this concert? What else was different from concerts in your home country? Feel free to comment!

My Time on NHK World’s Cool Japan TV Show

“My name is Angela and I have 2 cats.”

Since March I have appeared on 5 episodes of the long-running television show called “Cool Japan” that is broadcast on NHK’s BS1 channel, as well as on their global broadcast called NHK World.

Today I got my first message from a viewer through my blog (thank you for writing, Ich!), and it dawned on me that I should probably post about my experience on the show.

Whenever people find out that I have appeared on the program they always ask me how I got on the show, what it’s like, etc. so, there’s the scoop on it.

I started watching the program when we moved to Japan in November 2013. I enjoyed the show, and watched it almost every week.

Then in June 2014 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and during my “surgery summer” I was home recovering, which meant I was able to watch every episode of the show.

During this time I also spent a lot of time online researching and happened to check out the Cool Japan website on NHK. At the very bottom of the site there was a button mentioning they were accepting new cast members, so I thought.. “what do I have to lose?” and I applied sometime in July 2014.

A few months went by without hearing anything. Then around September I got an email asking me to come for an audition. Of course I said yes. The only problem was that I was in Hawaii receiving cancer treatment and would likely not make it back to Japan in time for the audition. I said yes, anyway. I convinced my doctors to let me fly home maybe 2-3 days before my big audition.

I was jet lagged and filled with a low level of radiation. My hair was falling out and I was exhausted. But I made the trip to Roppongi from my city and auditioned. It was awful. The asked me to tell them about myself. I had not been asked that question since being diagnosed with cancer. I stuttered. I said “My name is Angela and I like cats.” I didn’t say where I was from, that I worked for Dell (at the time), that I was married, that I had a master’s degree…none of it. They looked at me like I was nuts.

It was a group audition with 3 other foreigners in my group. They were very genki and  from big metropolitan cities. I was sick and was from a small southern state in America. The audition topic was about night life. In my state nightlife consists of clubbing (which I don’t do), and going to the 24-hour Wal-Mart. We don’t really have anything else that’s open 24 hours, so I had very little to contribute to the conversation.

After the audition I was pulled aside and asked some questions about gachapon machines, but I didn’t feel it was a good audition at all. I was so sick, so I don’t remember much else about it at all.


From my first episode- I was sure I’d never get asked back, so I wanted to be sure and get a picture!

A few more months passed-I assumed I made a fool of myself and would never hear from them again. I was so surprised when I received an invitation in February to appear as a panelist on the topic of Kawaii 2015 that would tape in March. I went. I talked. I had a blast.

It was so much fun! I couldn’t believe that I was sitting just a few feet away from people I watched on television every week. It was surreal and I turned into a fangirl for a moment.

Then I taped the other episodes I mentioned earlier.




For those interested, my episodes so far have been:

Kawaii 2015


Edged Tools




It’s been a really fun and exciting summer, and I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work on the show. I’m not sure if I’ll be asked back in the future, but I will always cherish my memories and experiences from the episodes I’ve done so far! I’m feeling better each passing month, and I think that being on the show and making people laugh has helped me in my cancer recovery.

If you’ve stumbled upon my blog because you saw me on the show, thank you for watching. I hope you enjoyed watching the episodes!







Swallowtail Butler Cafe in Ikebukuro, Tokyo

Ikebukuro is known for being the Akihabara for women, so of course I had to check out the male version of the maid cafe, the famous Swallowtail Butler Cafe.

To get to the cafe you have to take a flight of nondescript stairs down from the street level. Once you get to the entrance it’s like walking into an entirely different world. You’re greeted by a white-gloved butler who welcomes you and asks if you have a reservation. You need a reservation, so be sure to make one.

When it is finally your turn to enter into the cafe you’re passed through a few mansion-style front doors that give you the illusion of entering a beautiful home. 2 entry-way butlers politely introduced themselves, helped me out of my coat, then and took my purse. Next he lovingly folded my coat and draped it over his arm, gesturing that it was time for me to walk down the hallway and into the dining area.


Photo of the dining area found via Google images

Inside it is just as fancy and delicate as you imagined. The ceilings are adorned with chandeliers and sconces dripping with crystals. The lighting is warm, but a bit subdued. Each table is masterfully set to welcome the next princess who walks through the door. I couldn’t wait to try it myself.


The well-mannered butlers cater to your every need. And I mean every need. You are given a beautiful bell to ring should you need attention, but my butler was so on top of everything that I never had to ring it. They even poured your tea (and then covered the teapot with a tea cosy, so your beautiful princess eyes didn’t have to look at it!).


photo of one of the lunch sets found using Google images

Your butler took your plates off the tabletop serving tray, too. You instructed your butler about which dish you wanted to eat next, and he got it and set it in front of you. I wasn’t allowed to do anything that required effort, except eat and drink. I’m surprised they didn’t want to go into the bathroom with me!


I loved everything about the entire dream-like experience except for 1 thing. Phones and cameras were not allowed, so I have nothing but memories. After thinking about it more I think not being allowed to document your time inside the cafe adds to the allure of the experience they want their customers (princesses) to be left with, and encourages diners to return.

The entire experience is in Japanese, except for a couple of things I didn’t understand that our gracious butler tried to tell me in some English. If you don’t have a grasp of basic Japanese you’ll probably need to take someone with you who can translate so you can fully enjoy being treated like a princess for the afternoon.

And YES- I will be going back.

Fukuro Sabo Owl Cafe Kokubunji, Tokyo

You might have heard about the themed cafes here in Japan-cat, rabbit, bird, hammock, maid, butler- the list goes on.

Personally, they’re one of my favorite things in Tokyo because there’s very few themed cafes and restaurants in America.

In June my husband and I visited the Fukuro Sabo Owl Cafe in Kokubunji, Tokyo to celebrate our birthdays (he is 1 day older than I am).

The cafe itself is about a 15 minute walk from Kokubunji station and is situated in a residential area, so prepare for a short walk downhill.

It is very small and seats maybe 10 people, so be sure to consider that if you decide to visit the cafe. You might even have to wait outside for a table, but you can pass the time by watching the huge brown owls who live just in front of the indoor cafe space. I do not know the species, but they are really large and beautiful.

The staff speaks virtually no English, and back then we spoke and understood even less Japanese than we did now. We still had a wonderful time even though we couldn’t talk with the staff as much as we wanted to. Now that I think about it, we might go back there since we can at least understand more of the language, even though we both struggle to speak it.

The menu is also in Japanese, but there are pictures of a few of the items. If I remember correctly we just bought soda, but they offer coffee, tea, sweets, spaghetti, and a few other simple menu items. You are also given a picture menu of the owls they have available for you to hold and pet.

You eat first, then the owl is brought out so there’s no worry about getting feathers in your food! First the staff brings a leather glove and a few towels, then they gently place the owl on your arm and show you how to pet him/her. You can take as many pictures (without flash) as you want, so it was a really nice experience.

I chose to hold Shiro, a barn owl. I told the staff that it was our birthday and she let me hold the other barn owl for free as a present! The Japanese people never cease to amaze and humble me with their hospitality and kindness.

This was an unexpected experience in the center of a large residential district, so if you get the opportunity to visit the Sabo Owl cafe, please do so.

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