If anyone is responsible for the extravagant, envelope-pushing style of Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood it’s designer Sebastian Masuda. After the success of his boutique 6%DOKIDOKI, Masuda went on to work with the pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. His latest venture is Shibuya’s Kawaii Monster Cafe, which encapsulates the hyper-cute aesthetic of a children’s television program with a twist of dark creepiness.
The restaurant is supposed to evoke the spirit of Harajuku itself—colorful, loud, flashy, and growing outward, consuming everything in its path.
Visitors enter the cafe through the mouth of a goggle-eyed monster and are immediately greeted by a merry-go-round of life-sized gummy bears, peppermints, cupcakes, and other sweets. From here, they have the choice of four different dining sections. The Mushroom Disco has psychedelic booth seating beneath the cover of gigantic, multicolored fungi. The Milk Stand is decidedly adorable, with bunny and unicorn heads drinking from baby bottle chandeliers. In the Bar Experiment guests can sip cocktails inside the subterranean glow of an indigo jellyfish. Finally, the Mel-Tea Room surrounds its guests with pillars of pastel macarons and frosted wainscoting.
The waitstaff fit the theme too. Each fits into one of five Monster Girl archetypes: “Baby” is sweet and kitten-like, “Candy” is excitable and neon, “Dolly” is prissy in red bows and frills, “Crazy” is a moody, gender-bending alien, and “Nasty” is a sexy cyber-goth.
Even the food is like something out of a rainbow-tinted nightmare. You can follow the candy salad and “Painter’s Pasta,” a heap of multicolored noodles on an artist’s palette with the decadent “Colorful Poison Parfait Extreme,” an explosion of ice cream, cookies, frosting, and fruit.