Just when you think you’ve seen all things strange and unusual in Tokyo, this colourful city will surprise you with unique cafes you won’t find anywhere else. From the かわいい (pronounced ‘kawaii’ and is Japanese for “cute”) to the bizarre, Tokyo is brimming with unique cafés. Check out these すごい (pronounced ‘sugoi’ and is Japanese for “amazing”) cafés you have to visit when you’re in Japan’s busy capital.
If you’re so over cat cafés but still adore cuddly creatures…
Akiba Fukurou owl café
Tokyo started the cat cafés craze that you now find all over the world. The city has now moved on to something new: Owl cafés! The tranquil ambience of Akiba Fukurou owl café allows visitors to appreciate and admire over 30 of these magnificent birds.
The owls in the café are domesticated; however, visitors are only allowed to pet them gently (and at a specific area – their foreheads!). Sudden movements and flash photography are not permitted so as not to startle the birds . The café does not offer food options; instead, it serves complimentary drinks. As this is a highly popular spot among locals and tourists, advanced booking is highly encouraged.
Entry fee: 2,000 yen per person (Ages 7 and above only). Closed on Tuesdays.
Nearest station: Akihabara. For reservations, visit akiba2960.com
The centre of attention at Sakuragaoka café is, without a doubt, its two resident goats: Sakura and Chocolat. Housed on the café’s exterior in a caged pen, these adorable goats are the main draws at this quaint neighbourhood café.
While inside the café, enjoy a relaxing meal in retro-chic ambience and enjoy the café’s vintage and eclectic décor. Before you leave, do swing by the friendly cashier to politely request for some snacks to feed Sakura and Chocolat. Complete the experience by walking the goats (provided you make a reservation in advance)!
The café’s sizeable menu includes sides, appetisers, and delectable mains such as pastas, pizzas, and risottos. Wash these down with your choice of soda, cola, beer, or cocktails.
Nearest station: Shibuya. For more information, check out udagawacafe.com/sakuragaoka
If you like the idea of all things strange, yet cute and magical…
Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory
A treat for Studio Ghibli fans, Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory specialises in the most kawaii cream puffs based on the titular character of the 1988 animated fantasy film ‘My Neighbour Totoro’. In fact, it’s the only shop licensed to make these themed desserts (it’s said that its owner is the sister-in-law of Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki himself).
As Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory is located on the outskirts of Tokyo’s suburbs, it doesn’t look like the usual Japanese themed café. Instead, it is in a house that looks remarkably like something out of a Studio Ghibli film! The shop itself offers Totoro cream puffs and cookies for takeaway only, but you may enjoy these with a coffee at the Tolo Pan Tokyo Coffee & Bakery Café that’s located on the upper floor of the shop. The flavours offered year-round are custard and fresh cream, chocolate, chestnut, and raspberry and cream cheese. There are also seasonal flavours, such as peach cream, and Japanese chestnuts.
Nearest station: Setagaya-daita or Shimokitazawa. Closed on Tuesdays. If Tuesday is a holiday, the shop will be closed the next day (Wednesday). For more information, visit shiro-hige.com
Alice in Fantasy Book
Alice in Fantasy Book is one of several Alice’s Fantasy Restaurants, four of which can be found in Tokyo.
Dining here is like stepping into the pages of the storybook. The atmosphere is larger-than-life with whimsical and fascinating corners such as the “Encounter Mirror Forest”, the “Frame Gondola” and the Queen of Hearts’ garden for the “Eternal Chess Game”. You can almost expect Alice or the Mad Hatter to pop out any moment!
Savour delectable (and aesthetically pleasing!) cuisine inspired by Alice’s adventures. Order fancy British fare and original cocktails such as “Alice”, “Queen of Hearts,” “White Rabbit” and the “Mad Hatter”.
For true-blue Alice fans, there are two branches of Alice’s Fantasy Restaurants in Shinjuku. Alice in Fantasy Book is in the Kabukicho side of Shinjuku station, while Alice in Magical Land is in Nishi-Shinjuku. If you have the time to spare, we highly recommend checking out both to see how they compare.
Nearest station: Shinjuku. For more information, visit alice-restaurant.com.
Kawaii Monster café
In the words of its creator, Harajuku fashion designer Sebastian Matsuda, the Kawaii Monster café takes you “inside the stomach of a monster” – a very happy, bubbly monster that indulges in all things kawaii, of course! The café is a vivid explosion of bright and cheerful colours that is bound to amuse and delight.
For a 500 yen (S$6) seating charge, feast your eyes on cute creations such as a giant merry-go-round made of desserts and unicorns, giant bunnies dangling from the ceiling, and Lolitas dressed up in their Harajuku best.
I met Misako Aoki! I’ve wanted to meet her for the longest time, she has been such an inspiration for me. 🌷💐❤️ She was so super sweet and I was incredibly awkward and almost certainly annoyed the heck out of her. Here is a picture of a lolita queen and a potato. 🙃 @misakoaoki に会って、嬉しかったです！私はあまり可愛くないんですけど。😭💕
The café’s menu focuses on primarily cakes and sodas, and you’re required to order at least one main meal and a drink per person. Do expect every order to come in a blast of vibrant colours – all the better for the ‘gram (Instagram)!
Nearest station: Meiji-Jingumae. For more information, visit kawaiimonster.jp
If you’re a die-hard fan of anime and gaming…
Enter the immersive world of Gundam, and geek out at the only official Gundam café which was designed to be a “base of operations” (pun intended) for fans of the anime series.
Today we went to Akihabara! It's a very crowded place 😱 Obviously we went also to Gundam Cafè and I took a picture with my lovely katsudon Yuri Katsuki 💕 今日は秋葉原に行ったことがあるよ。とてもにぎやかだね~！！！😱 ガンダムカフェでコーヒーを飲んだ。そして、勝生勇利と一緒に写真を撮った~(笑)💕 #akihabara #gundam #gundamcafe #gundamcafeakihabara #yurionice #katsukiyuri #eevee #pokemon #yugioh #blueeyeswithedragon #blackmagician #秋葉原 #ガンダムカフェ #ガンダムカフェ秋葉原店 #ユーリオンアイス #勝木勇利 #ブルーアイズホワイトドラゴン #ブラックマジシャン
Venture inside to find futuristic interiors filled with towering robotic figures and other memorabilia, as well as giant screens playing Gundam episodes. Service crew even wears Gundam uniforms from the Earth Federation, to deepen the experience.
To give you a real taste of the world of Gundam, the latest menu recreates scenes from the different Gundam series. New items include the “A Baoa Qu Parfait”, a fruit dorayaki parfait based on the climactic battle of Char and Amuro, and the “Sleggar Burger ~I Want You to Eat It~”, which is inspired by the burger Sleggar Law ate in the first series.
For that added quirky experience, even the toilets look like a Gundam spaceship’s cockpit and simulate a take-off when you flush them (complete with sound effects and flashing lights)!
Before you leave, don’t forget to commemorate your visit by taking home exclusive Gundam merchandise as souvenirs.
Nearest station: Akihabara. For more information, visit g-cafe.jp
Artnia, the Square Enix café
Love Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts? Then a visit to Artnia, the official Square Enix café and store, is a must!
Located in the posh Higashi-Shinjuku Hillside mall, Artnia stands alone in its futuristic giant white egg-like dome structure.
The café offers an extensive menu that includes Square Enix-themed desserts and cocktails. Try their weaponry-themed parfait with a very tasty chocolate Buster Sword, or their Red and Blue Materia cocktails (aptly named after the magical orbs in Final Fantasy).
Don’t forget to check out the store’s collection of Square Enix memorabilia – from the more affordable character plush toys, key chains and chocolates to the pricier high-quality figurines and jewellery.
Nearest station: Higashi Shinjuku or Shinjuku 3-chome Station. For more information, visit jp.square-enix.com/artnia
Whether it’s animals or anime, Tokyo is never short of intriguing cafés. The next time you visit the capital city of Japan, be sure to visit one of them!