On our quest to find the absolute best things to do and eat in Tokyo, you can’t help but visit any number of themed cafés and restaurants. We loved visiting the Pokemon Café, but we wanted something that fits into the Harajuku cute scene…kawaii! (Cute!) It was no question, then, that we had to make reservations and have lunch at the famous Kawaii Monster Café.
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What does “kawaii” mean?
Kawaii is the word for cute in Japanese. You cannot be in Japan more than a few minutes before encountering the word, or definitely something meant to be cute. It’s just that pervasive in Japanese culture.
In Japan, cute is not just a word, it’s a way of life, a fashion style, a trendy product line. It’s the way the Japanese live and breathe. Cute. They try very hard to incorporate it in all kinds of ways, from using the train to in this case, a café theme and design.
Pronunciation can be a bit difficult. The way you say it correctly, uses three syllables, not two. So break the word up and say, “ka-wa” and then “iiiiii”. Certainly drag out that last syllable a little.
You see if you don’t, often you end up saying “scary” instead of “cute.” Scary is the word “kowai”, but no long syllable at the end, and of course you say it with a long “o” sound instead of a “aw”.
The Kawaii Monster Café – Just for Kids?
Located in the Harajuku neigborhood of Tokyo, which is known for its cuteness in all things food and clothing, the Kawaii Monster Café is the ultimate cute culture experience. It’s a great place to have lunch while you are sightseeing in the area, and it’s become one of the top things to do while you are visiting Japan, especially with children.
This is because it’s all about cute monsters and is rainbow colorful in the room decoration and in the menu. The daytime show, which is included in your entry is very family-friendly with lots of dancing and singing and photo opportunities. The kids can even climb the Sweets-Go-Round which is a merry go round stage where the show takes place.
However, for anyone looking for a little more adult entertainment, Kawaii Monster Café has a bar thats open all day and even has nighttime entertainment that is often family-friendly, but one night a week and during some themed holidays, can get a bit more seductive and adult oriented.
They don’t want to be known just for their childish cuteness but also for their adult cuteness, a cute that borders on the risqué. On Friday nights, the café has a dinner show that is more like a burlesque dance show with much skimpier outfits. You must be 20 years old to enter and the show is age-appropriate.
They also offer event nights, like during New Year’s or Halloween that are for people only 18 or older. If you are out for a different type of party or dinner, and you need some good instagram photos, you might want to check them out.
Sections of the Monster Café
The décor is designed by pop artist and Harajuku expert Sebastian Matsuda. His concept basically is that a monster has eaten Tokyo, and you are sitting in its stomach. That sounds much more disgusting than it is, and there are four sections to sit in at the café that are colorful and yes, cute.
You will be taken to a seat, and probably one where you can see the show well, but no matter where you sit, you can move around during the show to see it and you can visit and take as many photos as you want of the other sections.
After passing the Sweets-Go-Round stage, the Mushroom Disco is the first section. It feels like you are living in a scene of Alice In Wonderland where the flowers are much larger than you. The plants are light fixtures and you sit in round booths with high backs, making it impossible to bother anyone with your camera flash as you are almost completely enclosed.
This is one of my favorite rooms. Its main decoration is focused around plenty of farm animals with baby bottles of milk hooked to them and hanging from the ceiling. It’s completely hilarious.
A little more down to Earth, the Mel-Tea room is a little more open with tables and chairs instead of booths. The decoration is pastels, and you can see forks skewering strawberries and big, red lips all around the walls.
The Bar Experiment is a very cool concept with the bar and bar stools enclosed in a very alien-like lighted rib cage. There are also some small tables across from the bar. Bar Experiment is open all day and serves up a variety of “experimental” drinks.
The Kawaii Monster Café Menu
If your instagram feed hasn’t been maxed out by all the trippy décor, it’s about to go on psychedelic overload. The menu is just as vibrantly rainbow-colored as the restaurant itself. Almost every dish comes with a colorful set of sauces to augment the taste, light blue sauce anyone?
There is everything from a salad to chicken and chocolate and rainbow pasta to multi-colored sundaes or popcorn. Prices start at 710 Yen and go up from there.
One of the more fun parts of the meal is ordering the drinks. Some of them have vials of bright liquids that you mix together yourself, with a chemical reaction that will draw the oohs and ahs right out of you. Additionally the drinks can be alcoholic, but they don’t have to be, so everyone can try them.
The menu does change occasionally, but many of the items are year-round. We tried the fried shrimps and a salad, and they tasted fine. Personally, I think more work goes into the look of the foods instead of the taste. But hey, the photos are super cool.
I would suggest going in mid-afternoon and having an ice-cream sundae and a drink. There were five of us when we visited, and everyone found something to try that was fun and insta-worthy.
How to Make Reservations for Monster Café
The restaurant, itself, does not provide a way to make reservations. They’ve outsourced this to Go Voyagin. You can visit their website, which is easy to navigate and is in English. I highly recommend that you make reservations as soon as you know when you will be there, as many of the time slots fill up quickly.
How To Get There
Getting to Harajuka is easy. There are a number of trains, subways, and buses that connect all parts of Tokyo. We really love taking buses in the city, staying above ground, and being able to see the sights as you roll along. However, if your starting point is far away, then a bus, by itself, won’t be feasible.
The closest bus stop is Omotesando and the closest station is Jingumae. Both are only a few minutes walk to the Kawaii Monster Cafe. Once there, find the sign and ride the escalator or elevator up to the second floor entrance.
Where To Stay
For those who really love the night life and energy of being in one of the most happening parts of the city, a hotel in Harajuku is a good choice.
Our favorite hotels in Japan are Dormy Inns. And one of the best, Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya-Jingumae, is right down the road from the Kawaii Monster Cafe. They have a relaxing spa with hot baths, coin operated laundry, and complimentary noodles at night!