6 insane Japanese cafes that must be seen to be believed
Japan is known for having some slightly unusual cafes. But the weirdest ones are out of this world.
As much as Japan is famed for its breathtaking landscapes and beautiful shrines, the country is also notorious for some of its weirder tourist attractions. One of the most widespread crazes is themed cafes. In Japan, it seems there's a cafe for everything—every cute animal, popular character, and even... Monsters?
I'm currently on a semester abroad in Tokyo until August 2019, and plan on ticking as many of these cafes off my bucket list as possible. So far in the week, I've been here, I've visited two themed cafes that blew my mind. Of course, those were only scratching the surface of what Japan has in store for me.
Here are five Japanese cafes that I'll definitely be visiting while I'm in Japan, and you should too if you get the chance.
1. Cat cafe
Okay, let's start with one you've probably heard of. The cat cafe.
If you're a cat person, this is going to be your personal heaven. It's literally a place to drink coffee and play with kitties. So many kitties. And the good news is that while they were popularised in Japan, cat cafes are no longer exclusive to the other side of the globe. Nowadays you can find cat cafes in the UK, and they're growing in popularity—there's even one opening in the Bullring, Birmingham this year.
I already had the chance to pay a visit to some kitties in a cat cafe in Shibuya, Tokyo. It's really overwhelming just how many cats there are when you walk in - and since you're given a small bowl of treats to take with you, you instantly gain a huge group of new feline friends on arrival!
It was also quite touching to see that a number of people turned up alone to the cafe to pet the cats. Cat cafes seem like a relaxing place to visit after a long day at work to just chill out with a drink and some furry friends. Of course, I wouldn't say that the drinks are the focal part of the experience. We were so focused on the cats we actually forgot to get our free coffee!
So yeah, cat cafes get a big thumbs up from me.
2. Shiba cafe
If you're not a cat person, don't despair. Japan still has a cafe for you. While there are many varieties of dog cafes across Japan, the Mame-Shiba Cafe in Harajuku stands out as particularly adorable. Plus, the Shiba Inu is a breed native to Japan, so why not celebrate the country by cuddling with some of its cutest puppies?
3. Kawaii Monster Cafe
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Okay, this one's a little less intuitive. With a cat or dog cafe, you're kind of getting what it says on the tin. But what's a "Kawaii Monster Cafe?"
A Kawaii Monster Cafe is a one of a kind, out of this world experience. It's a place where all your childhood dreams come true, with carousels, booths sculpted into giant mushrooms, and food pulled straight out of a wacky cartoon served to you by kawaii (Japanese for 'cute') "monster girls."
The food might make you do a double take, but it's actually really good. I recommend the rainbow pasta in white sauce.
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The cafe itself will make you feel like you've fallen straight into wonderland.
And if that's not enough, the monster girls also put on flashy dance performances to make you wonder what planet you're on while you eat your lunch. I visited a few days ago and honestly, I already want to go back. If you can't make the trip to Harajuku but want more kawaii monster content, you can check out their page on Instagram.
4. Hedgehog cafe
Yet another adorable animal cafe! Japan has more animal cafes than we can possibly mention in this article. Just know that if there's a pet you love, there's probably a cafe out there for it in the land of the rising sun. This time you get to sip your coffee while surrounded by some new spiny friends.
There's a number of hedgehog cafes in Japan, and they're a place you definitely have to visit. You can even have your photo taken cradling a tiny hedgehog in your hands. What's not to love?
4. Pompompurin cafe
While Pompompurin isn't so famous in the Western world, in Japan, he's so beloved he has his own cafe. The character is from Sanrio (think Hello Kitty) and is an emulsion of a golden retriever and a pudding. Pompompurin cafe in Harajuku is the place for all things Pompompurin, including treats, merchandise and photo opportunities. But the real charm of this cafe is in its food, which is all created in the character's image.
Naturally, it's almost too cute to eat. Almost.
6. Robot Restaurant
Although it's not technically a cafe, Shinjuku's Robot Restaurant has to get an honourable mention as the most unique dining experience in Japan. After having drinks in a fully illuminated bar, as pictured above, visitors get to experience the musical performance of a lifetime. There's singing and dancing, crazy costumes with neon everywhere, and of course, plenty of robots.