Happy 7th anniversary to us! I feel that as time goes by, blogs will fade away since we have RL commitments. But I still enjoy posting now and then. So to anyone still following us, thanks for sticking around and hope you’ve been enjoying the posts.
I know I said in my last anniversary post (oops hah) that I have a tendency to visit themed cafes, and will post about them one by one. Well I guess I shelved it till now… I did make a list of themed cafes I visited and it’s easily over 10. At this pace, it’ll take me forever to write about them. So I’ll do a digest and for starters, I’ll choose the cafes which I think will interest people more.
I touched about it in my post 2 years ago. You can refer to it for a basic introduction. This time, I’ll do my best to recall my experience at the different branches. I’m not sure how useful or interesting it will be, but let’s see.
Ikebukuro: Do you remember the old Animate building? The cafe branch is located there, on the 7F/8F. I have a feeling that they occupy 2 floors so as to accommodate different timings. Because I only saw one floor when I visited. It’s a wide space, and the cafe is the sort where you sit for 1.5 hours and have a proper meal. I visited this branch for the Haikyuu!! cafe. It was also one of the few times in which the staff played a game with us. Usually, there will be laminated sheets with groups of characters, and at the staff’s cue you choose one sheet to hold up. Depending on the answer the staff holds up too, you win/lose. By playing a few rounds, there will be a few winners left and they can each win an extra prize.
Not limited to this branch only, recently they’ve started to create little character placards etc. for you to take photographs with.
Ikebukuro #2: This branch is located a block away from the current Animate building, and it’s on the 4F. If you’re on the correct street and look up, you can see the decorated glass windows. I visited this branch for the Nitro+CHiRAL, and Yuri!!! on Ice cafe. The former was via walk-in, while the latter was via reservation. Similarly, you can stay here for 1.5 hours and have a proper meal. I remember N+C as having a significant space dedicated to selling merchandises and large figurine displays. Whereas YOI’s space was mostly dedicated to the tables – I guess due to its popularity. YOI’s visit was also one of the few times in which the staff played a game with us.
Ikebukuro #3: This is the branch is the easiest to identify as it’s located right next to the current Animate building. It’s on the 3F, but there will be a notice stand outside the building, informing you about the cafe. I visited this branch for the Bungou Stray Dogs cafe. Similarly, you can stay here for 1.5 hours and have a proper meal. Unlike the previous two branches, I recall that there were no windows overlooking outside. BSD’s visit was also one of the few times in which the staff played a game with us – if you were counting, that makes it 3 times in total for me.
Ikebukuro cafe shop: As explained in my post 2 years ago, a cafe shop is a much smaller space mostly consisting of single-seaters, and you only get 0.5 hours altogether. It’s located in the same building as the 1st one, but on 1F. I visited this branch for the first A3! collaboration, and I was late! I think I arrived 10-15 minutes late. Luckily, I was still allowed to enter. But that meant that I had to marathon through everything – from ordering, buying the merchandises, taking photos, finishing my drink, and exchanging blind packs with fellow customers. I stayed till the staff politely told us to leave, as it was the next group’s turn to enter.
On a side note, this experience wasn’t all that bad for me. Because there was a huge A3! fan in the same session and literally everyone was exchanging with her – imagine how many goods she had. I guess since I must have been the only Hisoka fan she encountered there, she also ended up giving me Hisoka’s autograph board.
Akihabara: This is located on the 5F of AKIBA Culture Zone, which also hosts many other Japanese pop culture-related stores including Lashinbang. I visited this branch for the Boku no Hero Academia cafe. You can stay here for 1.5 hours and have a proper meal. What I vividly remember is that the space was big enough to also accommodate a small stage, multiple banners, and even arcade machines (to play Hero Academia arcade games).
Shinjuku cafe shop: This is located in the same building as Otomate Store, on the 6F. As the name “cafe shop” suggests, you only get 0.5 hours. I’ve visited this branch a few times for collaborations such as Natsume Yuujinchou, Ensemble Stars, Yume100. It’s an even smaller space compared to the Ikebukuro one – which at least occupies 1 floor.
Osaka: Honestly, I have no idea how I found my way to this branch. It’s quite a long walk from the station (don’t believe the 5/10 minutes thing written on the website, especially if it’s your first time in the area). You can stay here for 1.5 hours and have a proper meal. I visited this branch for the Osomatsu-san cafe. This was when the series was all the rage. I know that fan girls will occasionally walk around to see what other people want to exchange. But for this experience, I felt as though they were like hawks and kept circling around once every few minutes.
Kyoto cafe shop: Do you know the Teramachi shopping arcade? That’s where this branch is. However, if you’ve visited other shopping arcades in Japan, you will know that it’s a complex maze of shops. So be careful not to get lost. I visited this branch for the Ensemble Stars collaboration. What stood out to me (if I still recall correctly) is that despite it being a cafe shop, there were 2 floors. So it’s the biggest space among the 3 current cafe shops.
Okayama: This branch is located right next to Animate in Okayama, how convenient. Just take note not to enter it with any unpaid merchandises. I visited this branch for the Idolish7 collaboration. This used to be a cafe shop, but it closed in May this year and reopened as Animate Cafe Gratte. So any information about my own experience may no longer be valid.
I shared about Otomate Cafe last year, so let me share about Otomate Garden this time. I visited it, after it moved to the 5F of Otomate Building, for the Collar x Malice cafe. Since the building is narrow, that’s also the space of the cafe. It’s definitely smaller than Otomate Cafe. Since the concept always changes, they can’t do elaborate decoration. They did make it like a “garden” with all the greenery, white walls and fake windows. There will be panels for the chosen otome game too. But the ceiling is exposed with all the piping etc. You can stay for 1.5 hours there, and buy merchandises from past collaborations as well – if still available.
Anyway, you may have heard stories about Otomate Garden. Everyone rushes to make a reservation online once it opens. Even if they don’t have their ideal date/time, they will reserve and try to exchange online later. Even if you have secured a reservation, you have to buy/exchange for a physical ticket at the convenience store within the next few days. So honestly, it’s really hard for overseas fans to visit without the help of a friend in Japan.
Then you visit the cafe thinking that it’s packed with fans. Except that it isn’t. Most of them only come to get the goods that come with the reservation and leave. So when I visited, the cafe was half-empty. And most customers were only ordering drinks…and more drinks. The staff was okay that day. (My friend says that they encountered poor service before though…) I noticed that the menu usually includes omu rice, pasta and similar stuff – with minor changes to reflect the theme. That being said, the food and drinks were actually pretty decent and reasonably priced! I didn’t try any desserts.
Previously, you get a random coaster for drinks, and a ballot entry form (for the illustration panels) for food/desserts. Now, they’ve changed it to receiving coasters for every order.
I can’t say that I enjoyed my visit as much due to the awkwardness. But more than that, I don’t think I’ll visit again due to how difficult it is to get in there in the first place lol.
THE GUEST cafe and diner
There are several branches across Japan, and their collaborations are pretty varied including anime, movies, games and so on. When they did the first Kimi no Na wa collaboration, the queues were infamously long. I visited when they did the second Kimi no Na wa collaboration at Ikebukuro, and luckily I easily got a table. Their menu always looks very in-tune with the theme, amazing and appetising, but the price is also more expensive. And that’s taking into consideration that themed cafes are usually pricier. However, I really did enjoy the food, drinks and desserts. You get a random coaster for drinks, and the corresponding card (?) for food/desserts.
Their merchandises are also more varied besides can badges and acrylics, and tend to include stuff which you can use in your daily life such as bags, chopsticks, lunchbox etc.
I also remembered that they did English/Mandarin translations (albeit awkward) on their website for the Kimi no Na wa collaboration.
This is located in Harajuku, and the collaborations can range from anime to manga, games, pop stars etc. You can stay for 80 minutes. The cafe usually has a different menu/accompanying tokuten for the first and second halves. I visited this for the 10 Count collaboration. You have to reserve quite some time in advance, and even pick your menu at the same time. Take note that you have to pay in advance. You are free to order drinks/desserts on the spot, and will receive a random coaster in return. The food was okay, but it was cold. Since they already know your order, your food is already packed in a bento and on your assigned table. So at the same time, they are able to prepare it well in advance.
Speaking of tables, I remember how close the tables and seats were to each other! The spaces in between were really narrow. So um, just be careful of that, and how loud you talk. Since it was 10 Count collaboration, the customers were female – except one table in which an overseas fan must have dragged her boyfriend along.
The merchandises can be pretty varied (I think), and you actually buy them separately at the very front counter. And for the 10 Count collaboration, they were doing some AR activity. You could download the application in advance and go around the cafe to view special scenes. If you collected all the scenes, you could pick a coaster of your choice. Umm, my friend and I truly didn’t have enough time to do this. We were too busy eating, buying merchandises, and taking photographs of the framed illustrations and TV screen.
Similar to Animate Cafe, they have a some branches across Japan. Their collaborations can range from anime to games (including otome games). No reservation is required, and there’s no time limit. I only visited this once for the Yuri!!! On Ice collaboration, and got a seat straightaway. If it’s crowded, apparently they will give out queue tickets. I never encountered that, so unfortunately I can’t elaborate about that.
In comparison to other themed cafes, the food/drinks isn’t fantastic and there is not as much effort in making it cute/related to the theme. So I guess that’s why it can have so many branches? And it isn’t as popular and no reservations are required? That being said, they are able to constantly do collaborations for the latest titles, and the merchandise can be rather cute. When I visited an Ikebukuro branch, about half of the cafe was occupied. Probably thanks to the dedicated Yuri!!! On Ice fans.
You receive a random coaster for every order.
Aka the butler cafe. You can stay for 80 minutes, and there are seasonal menus every month. I’m sure that you will be able to find other blogs with more detailed accounts of their experience. The one thing I clearly remember is the delicious tea and food – especially the tea. And the gorgeous cup and saucer. If I recall correctly the interior is refined, but mellow and not overly extravagant. Too bad no photographs are allowed inside, so unfortunately my memory fails me on the details. Anyway, you can easily make a reservation (including how you want to be addressed and sent off) and they have welcomed numerous foreign customers before. I think that it’s worth one memorable trip – even better if you love to observe people like I do.
However, as the theme suggests, the butler(s) is supposed to serve you and your every move. Once you enter, an older one will take your outerwear. Once you’re at your table, you will have an assigned butler who will take care of you. Not just serving you your order or pouring your tea, but also accompany you to the washroom and back. You are even given a bell to ring for his service. (I didn’t go to the washroom, but my friend did and she said that even the washroom interior was refined.)
I ordered an afternoon tea set, so it came on the 3-tier stand. Whenever I finished one level, the butler would always come to take away the empty plate.
I remember that our assigned butler was nervous, so he spoke his words quickly and softly. While I conversed with my friend in English, I did say at the start that I can speak Japanese – and he always spoke to me in Japanese so. ;;; If your assigned butler is busy, another butler who is on standby will also assist you. I remember that this happened one time, and that one was very confident though.
We thoroughly enjoyed people-watching too – both the butlers and the customers. It was interesting to see how the customers dress accordingly (you don’t have to, by the way), and some of them must be regulars and were comfortable enough to converse with the butlers. Speaking of which, they will give you a membership card. Umm not sure if I will have a chance to use it. I’m not brave enough to visit alone, and not every friend will join me haha.
I saved my favourite for last. This is based off the manga and anime of the same title (which is still one of my favourites). It is located in Takadanobaba, just one stop away from Ikebukuro. You can easily stop for lunch by on your way to Ikebukuro. Take note that they only serve food 1 hour after opening. It’s a moderate walk from the station, but also good to work up an appetite on the way there and to digest your food on the way back. I say this because I always tend to end up ordering more than usual. love the regular menu, the seasonal menu, the merchandises, the relaxing atmosphere. Enough for me to have already visited it 3 times. It’s great that the menu feels balanced too (aka there can be a lack of vegetables in most menus). You receive a random coaster by rolling the die (which changes with the seasons) for selected (themed) orders. (If you roll the same number consecutively, the staff is nice enough to ask you to roll again for you to get a different number!) The coaster designs also change with the seasons.
There’s free wifi, electrical outlets, a playroom for kids, and a smoking room right at the end, next to the washrooms. (If you’re sensitive to the smell of smoking like me, you may want to sit nearer to the cafe entrance.) It’s been in operation for quite a while, so I feel like it’s a regular hang-out for the locals too. Once I encountered a teacher/professor bringing 2 students in, and treating them to (Penguin) tiramisu. (I approve of the order choice because the tiramisu is delightful.)
If you play the gashapon, you will need to exchange for tokens at the cashier.
The interior is like a typical cafe, but there’s also many details. From the life-sized dolls, standees, panels, framed autographs and so on. Not to mention, the anime music playing in the background, as well as the anime episodes playing on the tv screens. I also find it cute that they regularly hold “events” that involve customer participation too – such as voting for your favourite character, submitting fanart, meeting Shirokuma etc. I would also say that you can comfortably dine alone here.
And that’s it! I hope that you enjoyed reading.