I’ve always loved owls. Nocturnal birds that are known in some cultures as harbingers of death or symbols of wisdom, they’re mysterious, swift, and just so goddarn beautiful. I’d never seen one in real life and never really expected to, because to me they were mystical, elusive creatures that often lurk in the dark depths of the forests, hooting and hunting while the majority of the world curls up in bed and sleeps.

So when I found out about Kamakura Owl’s Forest, there was no way I wasn’t going.

On a Saturday afternoon we ventured out to Kamakura, hordes of people filling the streets as usual. The Kamakura Owl’s Forest was about five minutes from the station, located in the famous Komachidori.

In truth, we went in thinking it was an owl cafe, another one of the many animal cafes that Japan has to offer. It wasn’t until we got to the entrance that we realized it was more like an indoor petting zoo.



As we stepped inside we saw that the relatively small, warm room was covered with strings of fake plastic leaves, the windows only letting in whatever sunlight filtered through them. We paid at the entrance — 600 yen (5 USD) per adult. There was no time limit, so we were free to roam around for as long as we wanted.

The staff gave us a brief explanation of what to expect and how to interact with the owls. The rules were pretty simple: visitors have to walk around the room in a clockwise direction and stay at least 30 cm away from the animals, you can pet the owls on their heads and backs but only with the back of your hand, and some owls (indicated by stickers) are still new to the facility and can’t be touched. Simple enough.

At first, the owls were a bit hard to spot. Naturally they blended in well with their surroundings.



But when I spotted them, my initial thought was that THEY’RE ALL SO CUTE. They were also very calm and quiet, despite the continuous flow of people going in and out of the “forest,” and the never-ending line of eager visitors getting all up in their personal space.

It took me a while to get comfortable enough to try and touch them, but when I did, I found out that they’re REALLY SOFT.




Needless to say, there were many different types of owls — 14, according to Kamakura Owl’s Forest’s website. From the round-eyed tawny owl to the snowy owl (Hedwig!), every owl was as stunning as you would imagine one to be.

It was almost surreal to be surrounded by so many gorgeous owls, mainly because we were right smack dab in one of the most famous tourist spots in Japan. It would for sure have been ideal to see them in their natural habitats, but that wouldn’t have been possible in such a populous, urbanized area.





Despite some things that left us feeling a little guilty (like the fact that there were so many of us crammed into their space to look at the owls), our trip to Kamakura Owl’s Forest was a pretty incredible experience. It’s not every day you get to come face to face with a real life owl, and there are things you don’t truly realize about the creatures until you see them in person (like how huge they can be).

So was it worth the trip? Definitely. Being in the presence of so many owls was undoubtedly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, and if you ever have the chance to stop by, Kamakura Owl’s Forest will guarantee you a truly memorable visit.

Kamakura Owl’s Forest

2-10-1 Komachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture (3rd Floor)

Open every day from 10:00~17:30


By - grape Japan editorial staff.