Tokyo is a paradise for lovers of the odds and be sure that if you imagine something, as absurd as it may seems, somewhere in Japan you will be able to find it. Although theme cafés and animal cafés are now famous and widespread all over the world, in Tokyo the concentration of these unconventional cafés is incredible high. Listing them all would require an encyclopedia, and even grouping them by categories would require a fair amount of characters and time.
In Tokyo there are really many different types of cafes and restaurants, such as the famous Cat Cafè (and other animal cafés) where you spend time watching, cuddling and playing with these animals, up to the typical maid cafè, declined now in a multitude of different attires (from the classic waitresses, up to schoolgirls, passing by Victorian princesses …). But the particular cafés of Tokyo are not limited only to these two categories, they are also composed of an infinity of themed cafés, many even temporary, dedicated to a character or a specific animated series.
To this already wide choice of particular and strange cafés, others are added that we could define “generic”, that have some characteristics that make them unique and that make the visit necessary!! And it is precisely this kind of unique cafés in Tokyo that I want to talk about in this post.
All the places have been personally tested and I will update this list with the future particular cafes that I will find in my Tokyo explorations, if you know or have tried others, do not hesitate to report them to me !!
Most Unusual cafes in Tokyo
If you list them all, it would be an endless list, but I limit myself to suggest some cafés with special or unusual characteristics or settings, those where you can take a break but continue to discover the uniqueness of Tokyo!
Momi no Yu
There are so many things to see in Tokyo, and despite the widespread network of public transportation, your feet will crunch a lot of kilometers and a little effort will soon be felt. One of the Japanese’s favorite ways to fight tiredness is to relax in the warm waters of an onsen or even just indulge in a foot bath in the many ashiyu that are usually present in the hotspring town. In Ueno is the cafe Momi no Yu, where you can sip relaxing or purifying herbal teas while you soak your feet in hot spring water!!
With 1080 yen you will have 45-50 minutes of foot bath, a herbal tea and also a back massage of about 5 minutes, a real remedy to recharge!
Address: Ueno 4-5-2
Opening hours: every day from 11.00 to 5.00 at night
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House
As you can easily see for the cherry blossoms, another of the Japanese passions are flowers. Even those who don’t have a green thumb like me, in Japan are fascinated by the delicacy, attention and the relationship between the Japanese and the flowers. Flower shops are very popular, one of the most famous brands is Aoyama Flower Market, whose stores are always set up with seasonality and harmony of colors. In three of these shops are also Tea House, where you can enjoy a light lunch or a snack in a kind of greenhouse, surrounded by the color of the flower of the week. The choice of herbal teas is extensive, but even desserts and light dishes are presented as small floral works of art.
A break here will transport you to an English garden or a beautiful summer country fair, making you forget that outside the “greenhouse” are the skyscrapers and the crowds of Tokyo. Personally I only tried the shop in Aoyama, and I found it beautiful, I hope to be able to soon visit the other two tea houses so as to recommend the best.
Address: Minami-Aoyama 5-1-2 // Akasaka 5-3-1 // Kichijoji Minamicho 1-1-24
Opening hours: every day from 11.00 to 20.00 (until 7.00pm on Sundays and holidays)
Kawaii Monster Cafè
A place like the Kawaii Monster Cafe could only be in Harajuku! A mix between the Wonderland, a maid cafe, the world of yokai (Japanese monsters) and a hallucination. I cannot describe this nosense place, where nothing is ordinary: combinations of crazy and colorful foods, drinks that change color and furniture and arrangement that leave you amazed. Yes ok, then we can also add the small show that takes place at regular intervals in the daytime opening or theme nights, with the colorful-kawaii-monster girls, but the real strength of the Kawaii Monster Cafè is just the local itself. It’s the perfect representation of what we can call the Modern Youth of Japan, it is the quintessence of Harajuku, madness, colors, eccentricity, all with that childish but fascinating soul, in practice the explanation of word KAWAII.
There is an entrance fee and an obligation to consume and there is a time limit to stay inside, just to eat, watch the show and take pictures. At lunch is cheaper, also because often the evening entrance is combined with special events or theme nights. There may be to wait in line, even quite long on high season weekends, but you can book admission with a small surcharge
Address: Jingumae 4-31-10 (Harajuku)
Opening hours: every day from 11.30 am to 4.30 pm and from 6.00 pm to 10.30 pm Sunday afternoons from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm
Shiroighe Cream Puff Factory
The specialty of this pastry is the Totoro-puff! Yes, you read that right, you can eat a Totoro, the famous character of Miyazaki’s movie. This is, of course, the main reason why you should visit this cafe that is a bit out of the way, quite far from the classic points of interest of the Tokyo neighborhoods visited by tourists. However, it is located between Shimokitazawa and Gotokuji, the temple of the Maneki Neko, so if you are planning these destinations, you could take a break in this unconventional cafe in Tokyo.
The small cafe is located in a little hidden alley, on the corner, and consists of two floors: the ground floor for take away, while the cafe is on the upper floor. There are also outdoor tables and the atmosphere is very nice: it seems to be in the Totoro’s movie: wooden interior, very green and large windows. The cream puffs are a bit ‘different from how I imagined them, they are less soft and tasty, but generally in Japan the pastry is different than the flavors we are used to. However, it remains a particular cafe where you can take very cute photos of the mini-Totoro.
Address: Setagaya Daita 5-3-1
Opening hours: from 10.30 to 19.00 closed on Tuesday
Among the entrances all the same and anonymous of the city’s buildings, here is a small and cute wooden door, adorned with plants: is the entrance to the world of fairy tales, made of colors and animals with intelligent eyes. Entering the Hattfinatt Café is like entering a children’s picture book, those with big-eyed animals, round flowers and skies with stars. The colored walls are the pages of the book that surrounds us, on the mezzanine you are sitting on the ground on the cushions and from the windows you can see greenery, and you feel like in a private tree house, where adults cannot enter. Colored drinks, sweets with a smile, but also dishes await to be ordered by the cute themed-menus: the cup of coffee for drinks, the birthday cake for sweets, the house for the main dishes. Fawns and curious bears look at you from the walls, while you place your order using to the telephone hanging on the wall. There are two Hattifnatt Cafè, a few stations away from each other, in Kichijoji and Koenji.
I’ve been in Koenji’s shop, but I’m also curious to visit Kichijoji, which has an even smaller entrance door, only 1 meter and 30cm high!
Address: Koenji Kita 2-18-10 and Kichijoji Minamicho 2-22-1
Opening hours: Koenji every day from 12.00 to 00.00, Sunday closing at 21.00; Kichijoji from 10.30 to 22.00, Friday and Saturday until 23.00
The Iron Fairies
If you are looking for a fairytale but with more adult and mysterious atmosphere, this semi-hidden café in the basement of a Ginza building is the right place for you. Soft lights, refined music and thousands of keys, fairies and iron butterflies on the walls. Retro sofas, brocade, marble tables and bottles of fairy dust. A Victorian atmosphere where you can enjoy a coffee until 7pm or better yet try one of the special cocktails created by the mixologist: have you ever had a cocktail with cotton candy or octopus? Here, in this magical world it becomes possible! Let yourself be bewitched by this environment and enjoy every single corner of this alternative and suggestive setting. During the day there is an entrance fee of 500yen, from 19.00 when the service becomes only bar, it becomes 1000yen. Even drinks prices are a bit higher than average, but they are definitely worth the experience!
Address: Ginza 5-9-5
Opening hours: every day from 11.00 to 4.00
If you love art you can’t miss this cafe dedicated to the artist Takashi Murakami and his smiling daisies! In this space inside the beloved by the nerd Nakano Broadway,you will find paintings on the walls with the iconic colored daisies, but these smiling flowers are also on food and drinks. You can relax on elegant sofas while sipping a Fulgen coffee (also mentioned by Monocle) and admiring the artworks of Murakami. The menu often changes and you can also buy the artist’s merchandise. There is also an exhibition space entirely designed with colored smiling daisies open for special events. A pause here certainly puts the darkest person in the world in a good mood!
Address: On the second floor of Nakano Broadway
Opening hours: every day from 11.00 to 21.00
Cafè Dojo Samurai
You know that me and Roby passionate about Samurai stories and after visiting various residences and becoming Samurai for a day at the Battle of Kawanakajima, I couldn’t not mentioned this particular Samurai-themed cafe in this list. Despite of the name, is not at all a tourist-trap, it is a very quiet cafe, frequented above all by locals. The interiors recreate a bit of an old atmosphere and two samurai armor and some katana are on display, but the spirit of “kissaten” the Japanese café is fully alive. The cups are all different, each with characteristic shape and color, as tradition of tea ceremony and the best places are those at the counter, where you chat with the bartender rocking on rocking chairs, just as the samurai seem to do in moments of rest. Soft lights and rice paper walls help you move back in time and make you feel like samurai taking a regenerating break.
Address: Kameido 6-57-22
Opening hours: from 08.00 to 01.00 closed on Sundays