The infamously cute, colourful, crazy and sensory-overloading Kawaii Monster Cafe is the drugless trip we all need to take.
The themed cafe opened in 2015 and I’d been aware of it’s presence for a while now. Just like my trip to Anata no Warehouse, I decided to bring my family along to see it too. The cafe is said to capture ‘the essence of Japan’s most famous fashion district, Harajuku’, sitting like a carnivalesque jack-in-the-box, tucked away on the 5th floor of one of the district’s many shopping malls.
The cafe is like nothing I’ve ever seen before or will ever see again, I’m certain of that. The closest I came was wandering the pixelated landscape of Neon East, a neo-Tokyo-inspired district from the absolute maverick PS2 game The Urbz.
The neon cave is inhabited by the 5 Monster Girls– Baby, Dolly, Candy, Nasty and Crazy. Spice Girls vibes anyone? Just like the Spice Girls, they perform songs and collaborative dances throughout the day, taking dinner and a show to the next, more psychedelic level.
The madness doesn’t end with the decorations… it’s even in the menu!
You’re required to order a set from the menu, which raises the price a little (as does the 500 yen entrance fee), but it’s definitely worth it. Another bonus for the real kawaii-monster lovers out there is that they have vegetarian options!
I ordered the rainbow pasta, strawberry milkshake and a dessert. The desserts were just what Bahktin would order, a mix of cute and grotesque.
What would you order? Have a look!
While my food was bubbling in the cauldron I left my mum and baffled sister (still recovering from the night before) to wander around the cafe. The cafe is divided into 4 sections, with the mighty ‘Sweets Go Round’ as centrepiece. The sections include ‘Mushroom Party’, ‘MILK STAND’, ‘Bar Experiment’ and ‘Mel-Tea Room’. We were sat in the ‘Mushroom Party’ section.
The Kawaii Monster Cafe is VERY tailored to the aesthetic, which is understandable for a venue who’s goal is to reflect it’s aesthetic district. The cafe is very self-aware in this regard, stating on it’s own page that Harajuku is a colourful and crazy town that “is like a monster that swallows everything in its path and keeps expanding. Our restaurant is a reflection of this monster.” It’s also tailored to tourists which is to be expected for a novelty cafe in Tokyo.
This obviously means that they have merch and, of course, it’s insanely cute.
While the English-in-abundance/ Japanese-in-absence makes the cafe more accessible, it did have me wandering how accurately the cafe captures the culture of Harajuku and if this view is shared by other Japanese people. Either way, I set the task to every adventurer brave enough. Set forth to the land of Harajuku and enter the belly of the kawaii beast.