My name is Liz. This is my second time to Tokyo so I am pretty familiar with the area and love helping others find new things to see and explore so that’s most of what i want to share with you today.
Tokyo is really a place for everyone- even if you’re not a huge anime or manga fan (like myself) you can find something you’re interested in- whether it’s local cuisine, fashion, art, you name it, Japan will amaze you.
Each of my blog posts will focus on a different interest and show you the variety of options that there are. I hope from these blog posts you can find something you never knew, like and/ or be inspired to explore more areas of Tokyo that you haven’t already! To get started, I thought I’d share with you one of my biggest Japan obsessions- Collaboration Cafe’s!
What exactly are Collaboration Cafe’s?
One of the things that I have noticed that is supremely unique to Japan is their love for cute (Kawaii) things- whether that be in anime characters, stuffed animals, fashion you name it. Most of this is common for anyone abroad as well but one thing that is unique to Tokyo is their love for making cute food and there are a number of cafes that love to have a whole menu dedicated to a certain character/ show.
Last summer I kept seeing cafe’s just out of random as I was walking down the street and after going to one or two I couldn’t help but wonder if there were more. With much searching and some luck I found that there are actually two great websites (in english) that keep track of these cafes- Moshi Moshi Nippon and Dango News.
With a brief visit to these sites, anyone (foreign or native Japanese) can find a new cafe of a variety of characters- from Snoopy to Hello Kitty and even Moomin! As an animation/ children’s illustration fan (both international and Japanese) I check these websites on a daily to see if my favorite character’s get their own cafe, and already I have been to six that I want to share with you today!
Kirby Cafe (https://kirbycafe.jp/)
This limited time only cafe located in Sumida, sits right at the base of Tokyo Skytree. It opened in early April and the current menu that is featured for their summer edition is from June 11th to September 23rd. As a mild video game fan, I decided to give it a chance as going inside is like diving into Kirby’s world.
Right through the entrance to the cafe there is a spot where you can take pictures with Kirby and his friends before you are escorted to your table. Once seated and a look at the menu you get greeted by even more characters featured on everything from coffee, to pancakes, sandwiches, and more.
When I went I opted for the coffee and vegetable curry since it was one of the only seemingly vegetarian options. The coffee curry on the left had mushrooms and some sweet potato pieces in it with just the slightest hint of coffee flavor. To the right the tomato based vegetable curry was the perfect pair for the eggplant and broccoli paired with it and the rice in the center made a nice edition to both.
Inside of the Wispy Woods (tree) ceramic pot there was also some tomato soup inside which also was a nice ending to all the flavors. As a small token I also got a small Kirby Chef figurine to take home with me which serves as the perfect reminder for the experience.
Kawaii Monster Cafe (http://kawaiimonster.jp/)
Inside the wonderful mind of Sebastian Masuda lies a bunch of crazy colorful characters which have been brought to life inside of this permanent cafe located at the end of Takeshita Dori in Harajuku.
On a Thursday Night in June I bought tickets to go to one of the shows that are a staple here and I had been meaning to see for a while- Kawaii Burlesque. Complete with colorful candy inspired costumes, the three performers that I saw did amazing acts of tease and pole dancing. The food in the same way added to the colorful experience each with its own rainbow theme.
The option that you see here is the Raffle Poison Parfait Extreme which consists of four different types (and colors) of ice cream- Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry, Orange Sherbert, and Vanilla; rainbow icing; a variety of fruit and a punch of whipped cream. On top there was also a giant rainbow roll cake and ice cream cone to give it that “extreme” touch.
I ended up loving it so much that am considering going back many more times to not only try the other things on the menu but also to experience some of the other shows that you can see on other days of the week such as Wednesday’s Pop Culture Night and Tuesday’s Kawaii Oiran Night.
Hello Kitty Cafe- 45th Anniversary (https://www.sogo-seibu.jp/ikebukuro/topics/page/1339256.html)
This limited time only cafe running from April 25th to July 7th inside of Seibu Ikebukuro was on my list of must dos while in Tokyo. As an avid Hello Kitty fan, this cafe was perfectly designed to celebrate her 45th year since creation in 1974 in a bunch of sweet and savory treats.
The menu ranged from Taco Rice Salad to Udon Soup and a Parfait all topped with Kitty’s face. I went for the baked apple as it is one of my favorite desserts and I was happy as I layered vanilla Ice cream, apple, strawberry whipped cream, berries, and white chocolate sauce all in one spoonful.
Overall compared to some of the other collaboration cafes the decor was a little underwhelming as only the one main wall and a couple of other small sections had hello kitty themed art on them but it was still nice to experience all in the same.
Bar Zingaro (http://bar-zingaro.jp/)
This small cafe located inside Nakano Broadway is probably my second favorite place that I have visited thus far in Japan as it is dedicated to one of my favorite artists of all time- Takashi Murakami.
Known for his cute yet sometimes bizarre characters he is most recognized as the man who created the always smiling rainbow flower character you see on everything from Louis Vuitton Bags to Uniqlo T-shirts.
I stumbled across the cafe, the first time last year and after regretting not going the last time I visited Tokyo decided I had to go back this year. Overall the menu for the place is very small consisting of only three main course options, two desserts, and some drinks.
I went for the mini burger set which consists of two vegetarian burgers- one “mashed potato” burger which has some potato, avocado, and beans, and one tofu burger, both on mini smiling flower buns. I paired it with an iced ginger chai latte which was much more rich than expected but very good all the same.
Overall I was just really happy that they actually had a protein based vegetarian option at this cafe as many places do not have a vegetarian dish outside of just pasta and/or salad type things. Definitely a 10/10 in my book.
My Melody Cafe (http://strawberrycd.com/)
Located in the heart of Omotesando, this cafe is the newest of the bunch featuring one of my favorite Sanrio characters- the cute bunny named My Melody. With her friends Kuromi and My Piano, this cafe is for people of any age. This was one cafe that I did have to make a reservation for since it only is running for one month- from June 26th to July 31st, but it was definitely worth it.
Again there weren’t that many food options that appealed to me so I ended up going for the Strawberry Parfait and Strawberry Latte both featuring My Melody on them and it turned out to be the perfect pairing. I also enjoyed that this cafe does have plush characters that you can bring to your table to dine with you bringing everything together perfectly.
If you are even the slightest Sanrio fan I definitely recommend checking this cafe out!
Hope you enjoy all these cafes and are inspired to try one out. As I said before, it is definitely worth paying the price to go to these as they are limited time only deals and are a fun experience for anyone. Since I have three weeks left in Japan there are a couple more that I want to check out before I leave such as Hello Kitty and Crayon Shin Chan Cafe in Osaka, Hello Kitty Enoshima Hakodate Haruka Tea Dormitory, and Gudetama Cafe Umeda.