A Guide To Tokyo's Character Cafes
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
From Hello Kitty to Disney, from Studio Ghibli to Pekochan, Tokyo is home to a large amount of character cafes. One thing I always wanted to do in Tokyo was visit one of these character cafes; in the UK we do not have many restaurants like this and if we do they are normally pop-ups and located in London. During my 2017 trip to Tokyo, I was lucky enough to visit more than just one character cafe. From my own experience, I find it is a little hard finding out about these different cafes given that a lot of these types of cafes tend to be pop-ups and 'exclusive', meaning that you have to enter a lottery to win tickets for them. This was the case with the BT21 one held earlier this year.
That said, there are plenty which are available to eat at all year round. Today's list will include some, not all, of the cute places you can go and eat during your stay in Tokyo. This list includes not only my favourites but the places I feel you are worth your money, have great food and offer an unique experience.
Pompompurin Cafe, Harajuku
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−7−１ 3階 CUTE CUBE HARAJUKU
The ever so lovable member of the Sanrio family, Pompompurin has his own cafe located in the heart of Harajuku. What I loved so much about this cafe is the sheer amount of choice they had on their menu. Normally, when visiting a character cafe because the 'novelty' of the place is most important, often the food choice is limited. The Pompompurin cafe offers a range of sweet treats and delicious meals. When I visited, I opted for the cutest omurice set I have ever laid my eyes on. Although a little pricey for such a dish, ¥1500 (£11), what made this price worth it was the fact this meal came with a free Pompompurin mug which I still use to put my hair accessories in. My friend Becky paid around the same, choosing a Pompompurin Curry and one of the Pompompurin milkshakes. This was certainly one of the more memorable meals we had during our time in Tokyo.
Expect to see Pompompurin Napkins, Lightshades and a massive Pompompurin statue in the middle of the shop, a perfect place for photos. At the front of the restaurant itself even has a little gift shop where you can purchase a variety of Pompompurin goods. It is not surprising therefore this little cafe located upstairs in Cute Cube tends to fill up quickly. I would recommend going during the week when it is a little quieter so you can fully embrace this overwhelmingly-kawaii food spot.
Alice in Dancingland, Shibuya
Address: Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya, Udagawacho, １６番９号 ゼロゲート
The first time I visited this place, I was with some family friends and I remember them saying that their young daughter had requested a special restaurant to go eat at. I had no clue this is what I was going to be treated to. As soon as I went down the stairs, I was greeted by the Madhatter and looked over to see the gorgeous setting. A lit up and bright carousel filled the room, with the pages of Lewis Carroll's classic tale plastered all over the walls. I was in the Alice in Dancingland Cafe. This was probably the best character cafe experience I have ever had, We sat in the carousel itself and were given little bunny ears by the Madhatter, quite frankly I felt like I was more excited than the young daughter.
Similar to the Pompompurin cafe, this place had a great choice of both its drink and food menu. The drinks themselves, though expensive, are BEAUTIFUL. They were all multicoloured and one even had lights at the bottom of it. If this wasn't enough, Alice came and made our salad right in front of us and placed on top, carrot which had been shaped as Alice. The pasta dishes came in little teapots, it really felt like a proper dinner party.
However, the standout thing for me was the dessert. We ordered two of these Cheshire Cat ice creams which I think were about ¥700 (£5). They not only looked amazing but were massive. If you are to get this dessert, get one to share between two or even three.
This cafe although beautiful, is a little pricey but you are paying for the experience and the place itself. You may want to keep in mind that this place charges a ¥500 (£4) seating charge. There are many Alice and Wonderland cafes scattered all across Tokyo, each with a different theme so there is no way you can miss out on this once in a lifetime eating experience.
Snoopy Cafe, Machida
Address: The Snoopy Museum has found a new home in Machida, Tokyo. It will reopen during December 2019.
This Snoopy cafe is part of the Snoopy Museum which was once located in Roppongi Hills but is now in Machida. I believe that you have to be visiting the museum as well to have a chance of eating at this place.
I remember that this cafe did not have as much choice as somewhere like the Pompompurin or the Alice in Dancingland cafe. Instead, it has about two or three choices options. Nevertheless, the sandwich set me and my friend got was really superb. A really cute touch was the fact that it came in a little dog bowl as well. This meal cost over ¥1000 and the drink was also a little pricey. My friend got this gorgeous purple coloured one which was really good, so I would highly recommend that drink as it is aesthetically-pleasing as well. For the price, the meal include two reasonable sized sandwiches, fries and corndogs.
The setting of the actual restaurant is nothing to novel, it just feels like a cute brunch place. There was more hints of Snoopy on things like Napkins rather than in the restaurant itself but I think this was to make the place feel more 'American' and 'Downtown'. In the old location of Roppongi Hills, there was also a snack van which sold hotdogs and drinks, however I do not know whether this will still be there in the new location,
Fujiya Restaurant, Shibuya
Address: Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 26−2 サンルイビル２F
Pekochan is one of my favourite Japanese cartoon characters. The face of Fujiya sweets, you will see this little cartoon girl on different chocolates and candies all across Japan, The Fujiya cafe is located in Shibuya and is a great place for a spot of lunch. The menu consists of a good variety of foods, sourcing mainly Western-inspired dishes such as pasta and salads. I believe they do sets as well which are of good value. What makes this place stand out from the others is the fact Pekochan is not plastered everywhere and there is not a lot of Pekochan themed food. That said, this cafe does sell amazing cakes which can be taken out. Fujiya is most known for its delicious treats so I would recommend visiting this place for the cakes. You can also purchase Pekochan merchandise here as well.
Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory, Setagaya
Address: 5 Chome-3-1 Daita, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0033, Japan
It is likely you have seen these bad boys before. These Totoro creampuffs are an all time favourite of food bloggers and tourists alike. Not only do they make for a really cute instagram photo but they are honestly the nicest creampuffs I have ever had. Shiro-hige's Cream Puff Factory is hidden away in one of a residential areas near Shibuya. Standing outside this quaint cafe itself, you feel as though you have been whisked away into the world in which Mai and Satsuki find and explore in the film. This cafe's main attraction is these little creampuffs but they also serve different types of hot and cold drinks. The puffs themselves come in a large amount of flavours. When I visited with two of my friends, we tried the chocolate cream, custard and caramel banana cream. All of them were delicious and actually really filling too. I believe these cakes cost around ¥500 (£4) each.
One thing to note is that because this place is becoming increasingly well-known, they prefer if you can 'prebook' your visit and state which flavour creampuffs you would like. If you pop by early afternoon, you may be disappointed as they maybe all sold out. Booking can be a little confusing, if you do not speak Japanese, however, if you look on their website there are other contact methods available.
This is one place that needs to be on your Tokyo bucket list for sure.
Address: Tokyo, Nakano, Nakano 5-59-8
Unlike the rest of the places mentioned on this list, this place is not a cafe but a snack shack found in the middle of the famous Nakano Broadway. Koala March biscuits and chocolates are one of the nation's favourites and it is no surprise given how cute this little cartoon Koala is. I found this hidden treasure when walking down Nakano Broadway. For ¥150 (around £1) you can get your hands on either a chocolate, custard or red bean flavoured little Koala cake. I feel this place is still not that well known by many so if you want to go somewhere a bit different for a light snack, this is the place for you.