Mascots and characters are a big deal in Japan, so much so that some become internet sensations with their own Twitter accounts (remember Chiitan?) while others expand into the F&B business. Tokyo, being the country's capital of cute, sure has no shortage of super kawaii character/cartoon cafés and restaurants.
Be it a Sanrio cutie (Pompompurin, Cinnamoroll), an international icon (Snoopy) or Pokémon, you can visit your favourite characters in Tokyo. A lot of these themed cafés are permanent spaces, but you'd want to keep an eye out on the special pop-ups and seasonal menus, often created to commemorate a special occasion, whether it's a new movie release or a milestone anniversary. So let's get started with some of our favourite character cafés in the city.
RECOMMENDED: Cute food and drinks in Tokyo
The epicentre for all Pokémon fans out there, this venue hosts the very first Pokémon Café, where you can enjoy food and drinks inspired by Pikachu and friends. The café often features special themed menus, like its current Detective Pikachu offerings that's based on the latest Hollywood flick. Don't forget to stop by the adjoining Pokémon Center on your way out to shop for your favourite Pokémon merchandise and souvenirs.
Sister store to Nakameguro’s adorable Peanuts Cafe, this new outpost located adjacent to the new Snoopy Museum (opening December 14), lets you savour a picnic-style meal with finger food served in picnic baskets, cast-iron pizzas, fresh salads, and other outdoor-appropriate dishes. Thanks to large windows, the room is filled with tons of warm light and provides great views of the surrounding greenery, making it feel like you're actually sitting outside. A massive red frame in the shape of Snoopy's doghouse stretches over one part of the available seats.
Snoopy's big in Japan: although often overshadowed by his Disney rivals, the co-protagonist in Charles M Schulz's Peanuts has his own legion of fans, while merchandise decorated with his likeness is sold everywhere from supermarkets to high-end boutiques. You'll find the deep-thinking dog and his best friend Charlie Brown at their home away from home in Nakameguro. The Peanuts Café serves up themed treats like a Goose Eggs lunch plate, Beagle Scout s'mores and peanut butter milkshakes, in addition to selling limited-edition Peanuts paraphernalia available only here.
Part of the European-inspired café and restaurant Sunday Brunch, this Kichijoji location has an extra touch to their menu: Shaun the Sheep-inspired dishes. Think croque monsieurs with a little Timmy, a brunch plate with a Shaun-shaped muffin, Blitzer's 'Marmite' curry... the variations are endless, and seasonal ones are added regularly. Don't miss the sheepy cakes.
Styled on Totoro – the beloved character from the Studio Ghibli movie ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ – these charming choux cream pastries are come in seasonal flavours, which range from strawberry to peach and chocolate. It’s almost painful cutting into these cuties as they really do look too good to eat. You can cop these guys from an easy ¥400 a piece.
If your love for Sanrio characters extends past Hello Kitty, you'd definitely want to check out the Pompompurin Cafe in Harajuku, a cutesy yellow space adorned with your favourite pudding-inspired golden retreiver. The café offers multilingual menus (including Chinese and English) to make it easier for you to order the popular pudding-shaped desserts and Pompompurin-themed curries and roast beef bowls. Don't forget to stop by the merchandise zone on your way out as the café carries items limited to this store.
Sanrio's squishy Cinnamoroll has proven popular enough to warrant its own café, which opened on the ground floor of Shinjuku's Marui Annex. In addition to its earthy and wood-heavy interior, the café wows fans with very kawaii edibles such as the Oyasumi Omu Rice, Cinnamon no Mogumogu Salad Plate, and Cinnamon Special Shortcake. You'll also get to know Cinnamoroll's lesser-known family and friends in the shape of portraits and limited-edition merchandise.
Moomin is a huge celebrity here in Japan. The adorable Finnish trolls have their very own theme park out in Saitama's Metsä Village, as well as several cafés in the city, including this one in Tokyo Dome City. Open from morning through night, you can enjoy a full-on breakfast menu and stay until dinner and drinks – all with a Moomin twist. The menu features Finnish cuisine, offering popular dishes from the Nordic country. For those short on time, stop by the bakery for takeaway goods, plus the merchandise area to stock up on adorable Moomin memorabilia.
Enter the storybook world of Beatrix Potter at this Jiyugaoka café, where you can sip tea and dine with Peter Rabbit and his friends. Complete with a terrace and souvenir shop, this charming café lets you spend the afternoon reminiscing on one of your favourite childhood stories. Order from the British-inspired menu, which offers a delightful afternoon tea set, cottage pie and beef stew, among others. There's also a colourful assortment of desserts including French toasts, parfaits and cakes. Here with children? No problem; just ask for the kid's menu.
Travel down the rabbit hole into the world of 'Alice in Wonderland' at this fantastical restaurant in Shinjuku. There are a number of Alice restaurants in Tokyo and even one in Osaka, which says a lot about its popularity here in Japan.
With its outlandish décor and fun menu, the restaurant feels like an escape into Lewis Carroll's trippy imagination. Try copping a table under the heart chandelier while you pick from a menu of colourful drinks and food options that range from pasta to fish and chips. If you've always wondered how it's like to be invited to Mad Hatter's tea party, this is the closest you'll ever get.
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