Japan - So strange, so funny, so exciting and so beautiful. It is hard to start unfolding everything we experienced on our two week trip, and put it into words. One thing that we remember the most, in a good way, is the Japanese playfulness. One example of this, is all the different theme cafés they have. We wanted to check some of them out, just to see what are they are all about.
MOOMIN BAKERY AND CAFÉ
We had heard about the Moomin Café in Tokyo but were not sure if we would have time to visit there. Moomin characters are from my home country, Finland, and therefore well known in our family. We quickly realised that going around Tokyo by subway was actually pretty quick and easy. So we decided to visit the Tokyo Dome where the café is located. After all, we had a 4 year old with us, so we had a perfect excuse for it. The Tokyo Dome has a lot of other nice things for kids and the young at heart as well.
Moomin Bakery & Cafe has a moomin themed menu, and you can buy some sweets from the bakery to go. The interior design looks very Finnish, and you can buy all kinds of moomin things from the souvenir store, like mugs, silverware or moomin pasta. Giant plush characters from the Moomin story are moved from table to table by the waitresses, so that no one is sitting alone in the café. We got to enjoy the company of Snorkmaiden and Little My.
Moomin Café can be found at Tokyo Dome City LaQua, 1-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo 112-0003 Japan
HELLO KITTY CAFES
We came across a Hello Kitty Café in the city of Himeji, and since we can always appreciate a cup of hot coffee, we went in. You can find Hello Kitty Cafés in Tokyo in different kinds of variations also. The one we visited was called Café de Miki with Hello Kitty. The café was in two stories and completely pink. Decorations were of course Hello Kitty themed. Our little daughter enjoyed her visit so much, she didn´t want to leave. Partly because after over a week, she got to watch some cartoons at the cafeteria; Hello Kitty of course. The Hello Kitty Café has a variety of coffees and teas, pastries and Hello Kitty pancakes.
Café de Miki with Hello Kitty can also be found in Tokyo, but if you happen to visit Himeji, you will find the café we went to at Ekima-cho 309, Laboville 1F, Hyogo Prefecture, Himeji.
Maid Café are a common site in Akihabara, Tokyo, where they first were opened in 2011. After that they have spread not only around Japan, but also abroad. Waitresses dressed like maids, serve their customers, decorate their plates with funny figures, and do a show or sing. The idea for maid cafés came from Japanese anime and manga culture, and from video games. Later, different kinds of variations of maid cafés have been popping up. Some of them now offer karaoke, massage or hair removal from legs and ears. Some cafés have also written rules for customers of how to behave during the visit. They are not allowed, for example, to touch the maids, or ask for their personal contact information. They want to clear up the confusion where some people think that they offer more than just entertainment.
I wasn't very interested in visiting a maid café, and especially after I heard that they don´t allow photography inside. They do let you pose with the maids, and then you can purchase your picture from them. If you don´t want to visit a maid café, you can still see the maids on the streets of Akihabara, where they hand out fliers to people.
During our stay, we saw multiple cat cafés around Japan. The idea is to go in, buy a cup of coffee or tea, and socialise with cats. Many of these cafés collect an entrance fee. The very first cat café was opened in Taiwan in 1998, where it quickly become known especially among the tourists. The cafés spread to Japan and all around the world. There are different kinds of cat cafés, some concentrate on a certain breed or colour, and some on homeless cats. They even exists in America and tend to concentrate on getting the cats adopted. Many people seem to think, that cat cafés are so popular in Japan, because due to large population the living spaces are very small, and most people can´t have their own pets. For those people, Cat cafés are a nice way to spend some time with animals. We on the other hand, have our own little fur ball kitty at home, so we skipped the visit to a cat café.
The first time we ran into an owl café was in the city of Nara. We saw some signs on the street and an owl sitting on the window of the café. The attraction of an owl café is obviously the owls which you can pet and take pictures with. Some cafés let you hold them while you drink your coffee. We saw another owl café in Akihabara in Tokyo, when we met a girl on street dressed in an owl suit and carrying an owl on her hand. Many owl cafés offer owl themed foods, which actually is a nice idea, but keeping owls as pets isn't compatible with my values, so we skipped this one too. I have also heard that hedgehog cafés are becoming very popular now. Coming from Finland where hedgehogs roam freely in the forests, I was turned off by that one as well.
On our last days, we had lunch at the Kawaii Monster Cafe. I had shown a few videos of the cafe to our daughter, and everyday she asked "when are we going there?" So we decided to go. We arrived right before lunch time and were able to avoid the lines. When the doors to the Monster Cafe open, you will get sucked into a whole different world. It´s crazy, corny, colourful and fun. Despite the name, there is nothing monster themed in this cafe. Instead there is loud music and colourful carrousels. The restaurant is divided into four rooms, and each of them is different. We walked around just to see what it looks like (don´t forget to check the restrooms too!), and our little girl got invited to a show with the monster girls. The entrance fee is 500 yen (about $5), and after paying you get to decide which room you want to sit in. The food is a little bit pricier than normal in Japanese restaurants, but the main reason to visit this place is not the food. I think that I should probably write a whole post about the Monster Cafe, it truly was something. I´m happy that we went there!
The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo seems to have a little bit similar business idea. People mostly go there to see the show, not for a gourmet meal. I think the Monster Cafe is more suitable for kids though.
You can find it in the Harajuku area at YM Square Building 4F, 4-31-10, Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokio.
Visiting some of these cafés was a fun experience, and our little one enjoyed it a lot also. There was one place that we did not get to visit though, the Gundam Café. My husband was waiting for this visit but everytime we went there, the wait was over an hour and a half to get in. If you want to avoid the lines, don´t go during the busy lunch or dinner hours, except for the Gundam Café which seemed to be full at any time of the day. There so many crazy cafés in Japan, and you can get more café ideas from this TripleLights article.
Have you been to one of these cafés? Or do you have a fun café or restaurant experience from somewhere else? Let me know!