Quirky Cafe Culture in Japan
9 of the Best Japanese Cafes
Meeting friends for a coffee is something which most of do on a weekly basis and we always say that it doesn’t matter where we go, its all about the people you’re with, right? Well Japan have spun this blasé approach to choosing cafes on its head by creating some of the world’s most extravagant, unbelievable and often strange cafes. No matter how niche your interests, chances are that Japan has a café to suit you! Let’s discover the best of the Japanese cafes from cat cafes, to monster cafes, to character cafes – in Japan anything is possible!
1. Maid Cafes
Maid Cafes are one of the most popular types of themed Japanese cafes in Japan. The first Maid Café was opened in 2001 and since then the demand has grown rapidly, you can now find Japanese style Maid Cafes in China, Thailand, Australia and the United States, just to name a few. Initially Maid Cafes were created as a side product to Cosplay Restaurants however their popularity has seen them become a favourite go-to destination for coffee and cosplay needs.
Upon entering a Maid Café you will be greeted by a female employee who will be dressed as a maid. Uniforms can vary from café to café but a typical maid’s uniform would resemble that of a french maid with a petticoat and pinafore. The maid will then act as your servant and treat you as though you are their master or mistress as opposed to a café patron and some offer services such as massages (no clothes to be removed) and ear cleanings.
2. Vampire Cafe
The Vampire Café in Ginza, Tokyo is ideal for those who enjoy a little spookiness with a side order of fun. Expect a black and red overload as soon as you enter, there is no detail too small at the Vampire Café with blood splattered on the mirrors, coffin shaped menus and vampire waiters, they really do pull out all of the stops.
3. Alice in Wonderland Cafes
In Japan, there is not one but six different Alice in Wonderland themed cafes all owned by the same company, Diamond Dining. Five of the cafes are located in Tokyo and the other one can be found in Osaka. Although there are six Alice in Wonderland Cafes in total, they all have different themes including Alice in Magical Land, Alice in Fantasy Land and Alice in Dancing Land.
All of these cafes are decorated to the letter with oversized books, card printed tables and Alice wallpaper. Visiting any of these cafes will instantly take you back to your childhood, and even the meals are Alice in Wonderland themed with Cheshire Cat spaghetti and ‘Eat Me’ desserts, what more could you want?
4. Moomin Bakery and Café
The Moomin Bakery and Café is much more than your average themed café. This café has been designed to reduce loneliness and thus has been dubbed the ‘anti-loneliness café’. Have you ever wanted to go for a coffee but have had no one to go with? Or have you indeed gone for a coffee alone and felt like you need to have your phone or a book out so it looks like you’re busy? Well this café solves that problem.
If the staff notice that you’re sitting alone then they’ll bring over an oversized Moomin plush toy to accompany you. When you’re sat opposite your favourite Moomin character and look into their eyes, you’ll no longer feel alone or self-conscious, you may even find that they are actually better company than some of your real friends!
5. Human Cuddle Cafes
Cuddle Cafes come in all shape and form in Japan, whether it be a human cuddle café or a cat, bunny or even a reptile Cuddle Café, there really if something for everyone to cuddle. Human Cuddle Cafes are relatively new to scene with the first one only being opened in 2012.
There is nothing seedy about these Japanese cafes, Cuddle Cafes really as PG as they sound, simply put, if you have had a bad day and all your friends are busy then you can go to a Cuddle Café and instantly feel better afterwards. A Human Cuddle Café may be relatively new but the idea surrounding animal Cuddle Cafés have been around for over a decade now!
6. Animal Cuddle Cafes
In Japan there are Cuddle Cafés for almost every type of animal but the most popular of them all is the Cat Cuddle Café. In Japan, the Maneki Neko also known as the Fortune Cat or Lucky Cat is considered a lucky charm amongst Japanese culture so this could be why Japan loves cat cafes so much. Another interesting fact is that in Tokyo, many residents live in small accommodation where pets including cats are not allowed to live so people choose to go to cat cafes to experience the affection which pets provide.
If cats aren’t you animal of choice then don’t worry, there are plenty more animal cafes on offer including Rabbits, Owls, Reptiles, Goats and a recently new addition is Hedgehog cuddle cafes. Animals, aside from being adorable, can actually help humans emotionally. Spending time with animals can have a positive effect on humans such as helping us to relax, reducing everyday stress and lifting our mood. Read more about Japanese Cuddle Cafes.
7. Robot Restaurant
Admittedly the Robot Restaurant is not a café, as the name suggests, however it could not be left off this list. Even just searching online for Robot Restaurant, you’ll be bombarded with 4* and 5* reviews boasting about how it’s “not to be missed” and a “must-see”, so what makes the Robot Restaurant so fantastic? This restaurant is a combination of everything that makes Japan so extravagant – expect multi-coloured laser lights, giant robots and non-stop energy throughout your time there.
8. Manga Cafés
Manga Cafes are similar to libraries but instead of books on various topics, shelves are filled with tens of thousands of manga and anime. Manga Cafes are hugely popular in Japan with there currently being over 1,000 open throughout the country. Each Manga Café can differ from the next but a standard Manga Café will provide food, beverages and seats (sometime reclining) for those to relax and read their favourite manga. Most Manga Cafes operate a quiet policy however there are cafes which become a mecca for manga fans to gather and share their favourite manga.
Some Manga Cafes have areas dedicated to those who want to draw their own manga. These areas are often desks which come complete with a pen, paper and everything else you may need to create a manga comic. If you have always wanted to learn to draw manga but would like guidance then you can take part in a workshop which will teach you all the basics for creating your own manga.
9. Monster Café
The Monster Café is more than just somewhere where you can pop in for a coffee, it’s an experience filled with animated decorations, vibrant colours and unlimited photo opportunities. The Kawaii Monster Café located in Harajuku is every child’s (and adult’s) dream. Split into four sections, the Monster Café has something to offer everyone regardless of their age however a sweet tooth is a necessity!
The four sections within the Monster Café are the Mushroom Disco, Milk Stand, Bar Experiment and Mel-Tea Room, there is also a Sweets Go Round which is an oversized cake shaped merry-go-round made of cake. If you love sweets, and let’s face who doesn’t, and are looking for a truly unique experience then a visit to the Monster Café is a must when visiting Harajuku.
So there you have it, a list of the best and most extravagant Japanese cafes around at the moment, however we’re sure that it won’t be too long until the next crazy café opens its doors. Have you visited any of the Japanese cafes on our list or maybe we’ve missed one of your favourites? Comment below and let us know, we’d love to hear from you.
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