Over the course of this pandemic that stretched out far longer than anyone could have imagined, countless establishments have been forced to close as business is seriously impacted by stay home orders and the lack of tourists. One of the latest Covid-19 casualties is Harajuku’s iconic Kawaii Monster Café, an over-the-top dinner theatre featuring garishly coloured dishes and performers decked out in wildly eccentric outfits.
Unlike some of the Tokyo institutions that closed down in the past year, the café was a relative newcomer to the city as it had only been around since 2015. While places like the 94-year-old Toshimaen amusement park – soon to become a Harry Potter theme park – are irreplaceable in the hearts of locals because of their long history, Harajuku, on the other hand, has a world-renowned reputation of being a vibrant, dynamic and ever-changing neighbourhood. It has always been a place for all things new, trendy and exciting. The producer and artistic director of the café, Sebastian Masuda, echoed this sentiment in a statement published by Reuters.
‘In Harajuku, regardless of age and era, the younger generations will always create new cultures’, said Masuda, optimistic that there are more interesting things in-store for the future.
It’s true: recent years have seen the introduction of rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches, cutesy towers of cotton candy and even a conveyor belt dessert bar to the neighbourhood, all of which are a testament to Harajuku’s reputation for keeping up with modern trends.
As for the Kawaii Monster Café’s unique aesthetic, father of kawaii culture Masuda likely has some innovative projects planned for the future. Aside from the café, the artist’s past works include designing a kawaii hotel room and installations of pianos covered in every inch with cutesy trinkets.
Bidding farewell to the technicoloured monsters is bittersweet, but there will always be more room in Harajuku for the weird and wonderful. What’s more, demand for Masuda’s artistic expression shows that the quintessential kawaii spirit that Harajuku is known for will continue to spread beyond the confines of the neighbourhood. Watch this space for what’s to come.
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