“Let’s meet for coffee!” How many times in our life we have said this phrase?! Well, in Japan even a simple thing as drink coffee can become a unique experience that you must try during your time in Japan. Unique locations, quirky style and special atmosphere are some of the variants offered by the various type of cafè in Japan.
No matter how niche your interests, chances are that Japan has a café to suit you!
So let’s discover the different types of Japanese cafes because in Japan anything is possible…
Kissaten are the traditional Japanese coffee shops. Some kissaten have been maintained in a historical style, giving them a good, retro atmosphere, which is different from that of contemporary coffee chain shops. Often customers visit kissaten not only for the coffee but also to enjoy the atmosphere. Traditional food and drink like Napolitan Pasta or Soda Float can be taste in the kissaten.
Some small and local kissaten also offer coffee and tea in cups each different from the other, sometimes asking you your favorite cup. Definitely, a local experience to try to immerse yourself in the Showa vibes.
Maid Cafes are one of the special things related to Japanese Pop Culture. The first Maid Café was opened in 2001 and since then the demand has grown rapidly. Initially, Maid Cafes were created as a side product to Cosplay Restaurants however their popularity has seen them become a favorite go-to destination for otaku.
Upon entering a Maid Café you will be greeted by a female employee who will be dressed as a maid. Uniforms can vary from café to café but usually include a petticoat and pinafore. The maid will then act as your servant and treat you as though you are their master or mistress as opposed to a café patron. It’s possible to buy additional performances like a dedicated dance on idol’ songs or a decoration of your dish with ketchup.
Japan is undoubtedly famous has the homeland of animal cafè, especially cat cafè, now exported around the world.
In origin, these cafès born to give the opportunity to the people who live in the city, in smaller houses and with not free time to have a pet, to relax by cuddling animals in a pet cafè. Recently, some ethical concerns rise around some animal cafè, so if you want to try this experience we recommend opting for some animal cafès that host rescue animals. Many animal cafè also care about the ‘off-time’ of the animals, in which you’re not allowed to pet or be near them.
Anyway, in Japan, you can find now many types of animal cafès, especially in Tokyo, like snakes, owls, hedgehogs and even mini-pig!
Rilakkuma, Moomin, Peanuts, Hello Kitty, Peter Rabbit….are only some of the characters that have a dedicated cafè in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Character cafes are popular in Japan for many reasons, first of all appeal for a sense of imagination and love of all things kawaii. The only trouble with character cafes is they are often only open temporarily.
In this type of cafè, the taste of food is not exactly the main reason for the visit, so it’s better you prepare yourself to enjoy the visit more with the eyes and not with the stomach. Of course, food and drinks look really cute and character-themed. Also the interiors of the cafè are usually aligned with the style.
Theme cafè and theme restaurant are probably the most quirk and weird type of cafè in Japan. The concept is similar to the Characters cafè, but while they’re dedicated to a specific character, theme cafès follow a specific concept and style.
From the cafes and restaurants inspired by movie or games (like Alice in Wonderland or Eorzea cafè inspired at Final Fantasy worlds) to the historical ones, like Samurai or Ninja, and not forgetting the prison-theme restaurant or the Vampire one!
Manga Cafes are similar to libraries but instead of books on various topics, shelves are filled with tens of thousands of manga and anime. Manga Cafes are hugely popular in Japan with there currently being over 1,000 open throughout the country. Each Manga Café can differ from the next but a standard Manga Café will provide food, beverages and seats (sometimes reclining) for those to relax and read their favorite manga. Most Manga Cafes operate a quiet policy however there are cafes that become a mecca for manga fans to gather and share their favorite manga. In some manga cafè, there are also desks complete with pen, paper and everything you might need to draw your own manga!
Manga cafè often also longer plan for staying (like overnight) with private boots with reclinable seats. It’s also possible to use showers and iron clothes, make them an option if you miss the last train to home!
Latte art, both 2D and 3D is growing in popularity recently and new Latte Art cafè are opening around Japan. The 3D latte art includes the creation of shapes of cute animals with the foam, while the 2D space from printing a photo on your coffee to the drawing of cartoon and design on it. The only problem is that in order to drink your coffee, you have to destroy that amazing art!