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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Hello Kitty Cafe

Greetings from the Hello Kitty Mini Cafe in San Jose

Paula Gaston

Last weekend my husband got stuck at London Heathrow due to a stormy weather, and he wasn’t able to spend the Saturday with us. So what to do? A phone call to a friend and come up with a plan. Our plan was to drive over to San Jose to check out the new Hello Kitty Cafe which was opened there during the summer. So we went!

 

The first permanent Hello Kitty Cafe in California was opened to Irvine in Southern California in September 2018. But before that the Japanese company Sanrio opened two smaller pop up cafes. The other one is very close to us in San Jose, and the other in Rancho Cucamonga. We usually spend our Christmasses in Rancho Cucamonga by visiting some family, so maybe we will get to visit the Hello Kitty Cafe over there as well. The actual permanent Hello Kitty Grand Cafe offers some Hello Kitty themed cafeteria products but also a 5 o’clock tea in their special Bow Room. In the evenings this room changes into a cocktail bar, and visiting in it requires a reservation.

But the Hello Kitty Mini Cafe we visited was far from “garnd”. We had read that in weekends they have had even over three hour lines to get in! That is pretty crazy! So we decided that in case of a long lines, we would go hang out somewhere else. But once there, there were no lines at all, so we decided to head in to this pink whole in the wall.

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The Hello Kitty Mini Cafe was truly a mini. There were only room for few people to be in at the same time, and there were no seating at all, or tables. We quickly realised that many people came in to just to buy some t-shirts or mugs, and they had just sold out the latest coffee mug. Hello Kitty truly is a popular character I see, much more than I have ever realised.

We order something to eat, and went out to find a table from Santana Row Park. My cafe latte with a Hello Kitty picture and all the baked good were cute, but they tasted very industrial. Our daughter did not finish her strawberry smoothie and that says something about the taste right there. And I have to say, that the prizes in this place are totally something else, and there not very much to choose from. They definitely cash out with the name of Hello Kitty.

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Unfortunately I have to say, that we were a little bit disappointed by the Hello Kitty Mini Cafe. In Japan we visited a Café de Miki with Hello Kitty and it was designed very well. It was so much fun and had lots of products to choose from. You truly felt like you were inside a “Hello Kitty world”. So we might not return to the mini cafe anytime soon. But I’m glad we went there to see what it was like, and our daughter was excited to see all the Hello Kitty products.

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Lunch at Kawaii Monster Cafe

Paula Gaston

In my previous post; "Crazy Cafés of Japan", I promised that someday I will tell you more about the Kawaii Monster Cafe we visited. well, we didn't see any monsters, but it sure was an interesting and fun experience, and our daughter still talks about it every week. Kawaii actually means cute or sweet, so I think that is why the monsters we met were not scary at all.

Kawaii Monster Cafe is located in Harajuku, Tokyo. It was opened in 2015, and designed together with an artist called Sebastian Masuda, who is behind many other theme cafes in Japan as well. During our trip to Japan we also visited the Moomin Cafe and a Hello Kitty Cafe, but there is also a Lisa in Wonderland Cafe, Vampire Cafe and many others in Tokyo.

We arrived at the Monster Cafe right when lunch started since we figured that later we might have to stand in a line. Smart move, we were escorted right in, but when we left we did notice that there was a line. Before letting us in, we were asked which room we would like to sit in and we had to pay an entrance fee which was a couple dollars. We had no idea what the restaurant would look like, so we went for the room called Mushroom Disco. The doors were opened in a very theatrical way, and in we went...

It is very hard to describe the atmosphere in this place, but this video will show you what it was like.  

The words that come into my mind from this place are; colorful, crazy and corny. It was very dark and colorful, and the music was very loud. Well, at least it was something we had never seen before. The monster girls were dressed kind of like Harajuku girls, and they also did a show on a merry-go-round that looked like a cake. Our daughter was invited to dance with them on the carrousel which she loved. The monster girls were also happy to pose for pictures.

While we were waiting for our food we did a little tour in the restaurant. Along with the Mushroom Disco, there was the Meal-Tea Room, Bar Experiment and a space called Milk Stand. After leaving the restroom we accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up in a private room. It was a pretty pink room with a huge kitty cat on the wall. It was very cool! And I should probably also mention the restroom too. It had an interesting collection of colorful marbles in it. 

The menu at the Monster Cafe was quite limited and unfortunately many of the desserts were sold out even though the day was just starting. My husband chose the only Japanese sounding dish on the menu while I decided to try the Monster Burger. Our little girl got the french fries she had been asking for, since it took a while for her to get used to the Japanese food. They were served with colorful dipping sauces. My husband also ordered a drink, which was served in test tubes. What was in it? We have no idea, but it sure looked interesting. The food at the Monster Cafe was ok, but I would not choose this place based on the culinary experience. They were fun, but not as tasty as the food we had been enjoying during our Japan trip. 

Monster Burger

Monster Burger

Video; Non Druggy Cocktail (Experiment)

People exit the Monster Cafe American style; by walking through a souvenir shop. Overall the lunch was very interesting and fun, but maybe one time in this place will be enough for me. If you want to experience something really crazy or if you are traveling with kids, I would recommend this cafe just so you can see something different. The prices are little bit higher than the average restaurant in Japan, but here you will be paying for the experience, not just for the food. But it wasn't too expensive. I think Monster Cafe definitely takes the first spot on my "weirdest restaurants" list! 

Kawaii Monster Cafe can be found from; YM Square Building 4F, 4-31-10, Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo.

 

Crazy Cafés of Japan

Paula Gaston

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 CAFES

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. 

CAT CAFES

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. 

OWL CAFES

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.  

MONSTER CAFE

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!