Japanese Café Culture: Unique Cafes in Tokyo
From animal cafés to spooky shops inspired by vampires, café culture in Japan is an undeniably distinctive experience that you can’t find anywhere else. The best part is, Japanese cafés cater to just about every demographic, which means there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So if you want to learn more about Japanese cafés – and find the café that’s right for you – keep reading on!
Café Culture in Japan
When you hear the word “café,” you probably think of a quaint little spot to grab a quality coffee or a matcha green tea drink and get some work done. In Japan, though, cafés are so much more than that – Japanese cafés are known for creating an atmosphere that isn't only unique, but makes for a fun social gathering hub, as well. Japanese cafés, especially those found in Tokyo, are often centered around a theme and are intricately decorated to match those themes for the ultimate immersive dining experience. To take the fun a step further, some places even offer specialty coffee and menu items inspired by the theme, as well.
Different Themes in Japanese Cafés
While all of Japan’s themed cafés are worth a visit, if you’ve never experienced one before, you probably want to know what to expect before booking a reservation. Here’s a rundown of the most notable cafés that Japan has to offer, so you can get a better understanding of what café culture in Japan is like.
Alice In Wonderland Cafés
Japanese cafés are great at transporting you to a new world, but the various Alice In Wonderland-themed cafés around Tokyo take the immersive dining experience to a whole new level. You can go and enjoy your Japanese tea or coffee in a unique atmosphere. Each café is filled with antique decor, oddly shaped mirrors, oversized furniture, and lots of colors, and depending on which location you pick, you might even get to see the Cheshire Cat.
If you’re someone who wishes Halloween was year-round, you’re definitely going to want to check out this vampire-themed café located in the Ginza shopping district. The restaurant gets its spooky atmosphere from the dim lighting and dark finishes, and if that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, the waiters are all dressed to the nines as Victorian vampires, too. There’s even a real coffin in the center of the café, because why not.
If you prefer a restaurant with a little more color, or you just like to be waited on hand and foot, a maid café might be more your vibe. At these restaurants, you’ll feel like the master of the house as the waitresses dressed in maid costumes fulfill your every need, and you’ll get a glimpse into the world of cosplaying in Japan, too. The first maid café opened in Akihabara, Tokyo in 2001, but the restaurant was so popular that the café theme quickly expanded to other parts of the country. So no matter where you’re visiting, you might be able to find one near you.
Kawaii Monster Café
Japan is home to the colorful and cute aesthetic known as kawaii, and you can get a taste of the popular Japanese lifestyle with the kawaii monster cafe in Shibuya, Tokyo. From bunnies drinking milk out of a bottle to macaroon-covered walls, this place feels like an amalgamation of all your most outlandish dreams and then some. Between the waiters dressed in brightly colored colors and makeup, and the over-the-top statues of mushrooms, jellyfish, and unicorns, you get a true understanding of the impact that kawaii has on Japanese culture. Plus, the atmosphere makes it the best Japanese cafe for a pretty great photo-op for tourists, too.
It’s no secret that cat cafés have taken over the world, but the Japanese have taken the themed restaurant idea a step further by creating cafés centered around other types of animals, like owls, hedgehogs, penguins, reptiles, and so much more. You can also keep it simple by visiting a bird or bunny café, but wherever you go, expect to enjoy your breakfast or brunch alongside lots and lots of animals.
Not sure where to find these cafés? Bokksu has you covered! Here are all the top-rated cafés in Japan based on the themes mentioned above.
While there are several Alice In Wonderland cafés to choose from, the most beloved take on the theme is the Alice’s Fantasy Restaurant located in Kabukicho, Shinjuku. Here, you can enjoy treats inspired by the magical story, like the Cheshire Cat Ragu, the Dreamy Fluffy Parfait, and more.
You won’t have a hard time finding a maid café to dine at, but if you need a recommendation, Maidreamin is one of the largest and most popular maid café chains in Japan, so you know you can count on great service and even better food.
Lastly, when it comes to animal cafés in Japan, you really have your pick of the litter (pun intended). Between the Penguin Bar in Ikebukuro, Harry the Hedgehog Café in Harajuku, and the Snake Café in Shibuya City, you have plenty of options to choose from – if you think you’re up for the challenge, that is.
Whether you’re in it for the food or the atmosphere, you’re sure to have a one-of-a-kind dining experience at these Japanese cafés, no matter which themed cafe you choose.
One of Japan's coolest cafes is the Lovot Robot Cafe! Take a peek inside.