When asked to think about what is quirky about Japan, many will probably think about the otaku culture, Harajuku fashion fads, or simply the customs that might seem alien to a first-time visitor to Japan.
Apart from all these unique to Japan, themed cafés are also big in Tokyo. Two cafés – Pompompurin Café & Gudetama Café – were particularly cute and interesting.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Sanrio characters, Pompompurin is an adorable, yellow golden retriever dog. He is always seen with a brown beret on his head, and his fluffy-looking, huggable appearance earns him plenty of affection.
Walking along Takeshita Dori at Harajuku, you might easily miss this café located on the third floor of Cute Cute Harajuku (3F Cute Cube Harajuku, 1-7-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo). Admittedly, when I first went to Harajuku, I was far too absorbed by the sights along Takeshita Dori to notice the cheerily designed yellow exterior of the café overlooking Harajuku’s main shopping street.
Despite visiting on a weekend afternoon, I was lucky to avoid the lunch crowd by going slightly before noon. (The queue by the time I was on my way out was much longer!) The wait was a bearable 10 minutes, and browsing through the menu before I entered already got me looking forward to ordering my meal.
The interior of the café is painted with a bright yellow, with Pompompurin characters decorating the walls, windows, tables, coasters and even the lights! A small section on the right is dedicated to selling merchandise such as towels, plates, coin purses, and files. A large Pompompurin stands in the middle of the store, a mandatory photo spot before leaving the cafe.
I was absolutely spoilt for choice as to what to order, and ended up deciding on the Taco Rice, a Hot Latte and an Iced Milkshake. The other options were also extremely kawaii, with Pompompurin-shaped curry rice and desserts. When my food came, I almost squealed at how cute it was! Not only was my rice shaped and colored like Pompompurin, the marshmallows and biscuits in the drink were printed with Sanrio characters too.
Not only was the food attractive, it was also tasty. In total, it cost me around 2000 yen, a price worth the experience and the meal.
Pompompurin Café has a total of three outlets – in Harajuku, Yokohama, and Umeda (Osaka). More information can be found on its website.
Gudetama is another Sanrio character that has virtually gone viral ever since its release in 2014. Probably one of the most unmotivated, lazy-looking characters ever, Gudetama literally translates to “Lazy Egg”. With its own cartoon running in Japan, a range of Gudetama themed merchandise exists in Japan from socks to calendars to tissue box holders.
Located in Solamachi, a huge shopping complex linked to Tokyo Skytree, Gudetama has its own pop-up café on the 4th floor of the West Yard of Solamachi. Unlike the Pompompurin Café which is much larger, the Gudetama Café is a small store which might not be there indefinitely. Hence, do grab your chance to visit it if you’re in Tokyo!
Although the store was small with less than 10 tables, I didn’t have to wait for a table since I visited on a weekday afternoon. The menu had a wide range of food on offer, from onigiris (Japanese rice balls) to meat buns. Of course, each item had Gudetama’s face printed on it. Drinks were also available, with Gudetama’s face once again appearing on the ice-cream float.
I ordered the takoyaki, and after many photos, I finally dug in. The takoyaki was delicious, moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.
If you’re on your way to Tokyo Skytree, the Gudetama Café is definitely worth stopping by!