When I think of the businesses hit hard by COVID, my mind tends to go to a few of the obvious places: small businesses, the performing arts, the travel industry. Then there are the niche businesses. In Tokyo there are quite a few, and since 2020 many have closed, some temporarily, some for good, most due to the lack of the tourists and visitors they cater to.
Today adds one more place to the list of casualties as the doors close on one of the most iconic restaurants within Harajuku: The Kawaii Monster Cafe.
photo via matadornetwork.com
Opened in 2015 and established by Sebastian Masuda, The Kawaii Monster Cafe centered around the concept of Tokyo as a monster, swallowing every new trend in its path, always expanding and creating a “new Tokyo that no one has seen”. In other words, once you step through the doors you enter the literal candy land filled belly of the beast-a super cute or "kawaii" fuzzy purple beast named Choppy.
It was loud, it was overwhelming, and it was the most fun. The stomach was divided into several different areas (or rooms), each with opposing yet exciting designs.
In the center you'd find the Sweets-go-Round-which is exactly what you think it would be. During the pre-COVID days, you would see the Monster Girls dance and pose on it, sometimes with Chompy, often with children, but on Thursday nights it would become adults only and the dancing would become a burlesque show! I'm sorry to say I missed out on this one.
Behold the Mushroom Disco-a nod to the psychedelic trip that is Alice in Wonderland.
Beside it was the Milk Stand, a reflective and strange little corner with animal heads hooked to baby bottles.
In yet another area was the Mel-Tea Room, a room with a much more playful, light feel. It was super cute with its cupcake theme! Seated in cakes and teacups, you could enjoy your food and drinks while ice cream dripped down the walls.