The SWEETS GO ROUND greets visitors to the KAWAII MONSTER CAFE.
The first thing that greets you at KAWAII MONSTER CAFE is a giant merry-go-round shaped like a three-tier cake. Behind this are booth tables with candy-colored stripes and mushroom canopies. To your left, unicorns, sheep, and rabbits drink milk from baby bottles. Around the corner from that is a tea room where pillars of pastel macaroons accent strawberry-studded walls. What else could one expect from an establishment in Harajuku, the birthplace of some of Japan’s most crazily cute fashion?
Dine with colorful poison mushrooms and plants from outer space in the MUSHROOM DISCO section of the restaurant.
However, you begin to realize that something about the place is a little… off. The cakes and ice cream have already begun to melt. Some seem like they’re just about to fall apart or slip down the walls. Thick drool is oozing from the smiling lips stuck here and there. The cute mushrooms now seem kind of threatening. (They should be, considering they’re poisonous.) And the cute milk-drinking critters? They’re nothing more than severed heads, their sightless eyes glowing an ominous yellow. Oh, yeah. And the bar is actually inside a jellyfish.
The Mel-Tea ROOM, where all the sweets are beginning to melt. (Get it? The “melty” room.)
The BAR Experiment, located inside a suspiciously glowing jellyfish.
You’re probably feeling a little torn at this point. On one hand, it’s still kind of cute, but it’s also a little creepy. The Japanese have a word that sums-up this confounding aesthetic: kimo-kawaii.
The author, slightly overwhelmed by the decor but loving every minute of it.
Usually translated in English as cute, the word kawaii has gained considerable traction outside of Japan thanks largely to the increase in the popularity of manga and anime abroad—and, of course, the Internet. The kimo part of this compound adjective comes from the expression kimochi warui. When used to describe something (or someone) else, this phrase means gross, disgusting, sickening, or creepy. For example, some people might think that the way that a snake slithers is kimochi warui. As Japanese loves to shorten words, kimochi warui is often just kimoi. Younger people like to chop off the last ‘i,’ leaving us with kimo.
Some meal options (clockwise from top left): Colorful Poison Cake, MADBLT, Colorful Rainbow Pasta, Waffle Chicken Brooklyn with Monster Dip.
Stick these two parts together and you get creepy-cute. You can see this aesthetic becoming increasingly popular, but KAWAII MONSTER CAFE is on a whole other level. Even the food here is kimo-kawaii. You have your choice of macabre entrées such as the colorful poison cake and parfait, the colorful rainbow pasta, the MADBLT, or the melty pancakes just to name a few. There are also a variety of “cocktail drugs” to choose from. I recommend trying the mad scientist danger cocktail that comes with an assortment of sprinkle-filled “pills.”
More goodies from the menu (from left to right): Cocktail Drug Yako, Colorful Poison Parfait, Danger Cocktail (The Mad Scientist)
The author takes a chance on a poison parfait.
Then there are the restaurant’s visual icons. Separate from the wait staff, these five young women in outrageous costumes are here to guide you through the restaurant.
The visual icons of KAWAII MONSTER CAFE (from left to right); Nasty, Crazy, Baby, Candy, and Dolly.
By this point, you’re probably wondering who dreamed up a place like this. That would be Sebastian Masuda
. You might know him as the founder of the store 6% DOKIDOKI. 6% DOKIDOKI carries fashion and accessories that represent a style known as “sensational kawaii.” Outside of his store, you can see his work as the art director of singer Kyary Pampyu Pamyu’s music videos PONPONPON and Fashion Monster. (If you’re not familiar with Kyary, definitely check her out on YouTube.) Masuda has made it his mission to spread the unique brand of cute (and creepy-cute) of Harajuku throughout the world. He maintains a strong presence on social media platforms such as Instagram and holds art installations abroad.
The creative genius behind KAWAII MONSTER CAFE, Sebastian Masuda.
KAWAII MONSTER CAFE is pretty trippy even by Harajuku standards—and therefore totally amazing. While the menu is a little on the expensive side (expect to pay around 2,500 yen per person), you’re not going to want to miss this one-of-a-kind experience and insane photo ops.
Welcome to a very different world: the entrance to KAWAII MONSTER CAFE
KAWAII MONSTER CAFE
YM Square Building 4F
4-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Lunch 11:30am ~ 4:30pm (last entry 3:30pm | last order 4:00pm)
Dinner 6:00pm ~ 10:30pm (last order 10:00pm)
1 min walk from Meijijingu-mae Sta. (Chiyoda / Fukutoshin Line)
5 min walk from JR Harajuku Sta.
http://kawaiimonster.jp/pc/ (Japanese only)