Wednesday, January 27, 2016


What a hoot!

By guest blogger Kris Madden

At the Owl Café

Big liquid brown eyes stare up at me and blink slowly. In an instant Ms Yoshinori has stolen my heart. This little lady is part of the family at Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe in Tokyo, where you can spend time sitting quietly in the company of owls of varying species, sizes and personalities.

With names such as Mr Satoshi, Sweet Potato, Peanuts and Gorilla (a snowy-white owl with a black eye mask), choosing which to hold is difficult, and completely dictated by whether the owl is feeling sociable.

After a brief introduction in Japanese – no flash photography, no sudden movements or loud noises, don’t wake or squeeze the birds, and don’t let the little owls near the bigger ones - I have an hour to spend with my chosen owl.
Mr Yoshinori
I gently rub Yoshinori’s neck with my forefinger and she responds like a little kitten, seemingly enjoying the attention. The birds are raised from birth and treated like pets – and like the cat and bunny cafes dotted throughout Tokyo, provide a place to interact and play with fuzzy friends for those who live in apartments where pets are not allowed.

The owners of Akiba Fukurou think of the owls as therapy - with soft lighting, pastel-coloured walls and background mood music - so that guests can experience “extraordinary healing”. There is no doubt that spending time with these chilled-out creatures is a calming and comforting respite from the bustling, techno-filled streets of surrounding Akihabara, and another ‘only in Japan’ experience.

Akiba Fukurou Cafe (Owls Café)

67 Kanda Neribeichō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō, Japan

One hour visit 1500 yen pp (approx. AUD$18)

Advance reservations essential.

Follow Kris Madden’s other adventures at

Sunday, January 24, 2016

On the trail of Agatha Christie

By guest blogger LEE MYLNE

Sleuthing is not required, but there’s much to be discovered on the Agatha Christie Trail and fans of the 'Queen of Crime' should add Devon to their plans for a UK holiday.

Spending time with Alex Graeme of Unique Devon Tours will reveal all you ever wanted to know about Torquay’s favourite daughter, who set many of her best-selling mystery novels in and around what’s now called 'The English Riviera'.

Library at Greenway (image by Lee Mylne)
From the Torquay’s Grand Hotel, where Agatha spent her honeymoon, we hit the Agatha Christie Mile, taking in the Princess Pier (her favoured roller-skating spot), the elegant Pavilion where Archie Christie proposed, and the bronze bust created to commemorate the Agatha Christie Centenary Year in 1990. The Torquay Museum is worth a look, as it is home to the UK’s only dedicated Agatha Christie Gallery.

Agatha Christie bust at Torquay (image by Lee Mylne)

From Dartmouth, take the ferry to Agatha Christie’s country house, Greenway, for a glimpse of the private world the writer shared with her second husband and daughter. Surrounded by rambling gardens, the National Trust-listed house is a time capsule preserved with the same furniture and knick-knacks that belonged to the family.

Torquay Pavilion (image by Lee Mylne)
The Greenway boathouse is a quiet spot to contemplate the Dart River. Allow time for a Devonshire tea in the café before you leave, and perhaps pick up a mystery novel for your in-flight reading at the souvenir shop.

Die-hard fans should note that every September there’s the Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay, and plan their visit well ahead!

Unique Devon Tours: