As Rona and Putin duel for next week’s top headlines, everyone is asking the same thing: Can we please take a breather? What better place is there to step out of the reality of work calls, pandemic stress and the next scheduled missile test, than in a cozy little café with a cup of overpriced latté? If you are a café connoisseur or an otaku (or both), you are in for quite a treat. Scroll down for a list of cafés in Tokyo that your favorite anime characters have dined at for nervous first dates, gossiping, and who knows, plotting a defense against a mass terrorist attack? Before I accidentally type out any more spoilers, browse through this list of cafés (and more!) that anime producers have deemed worthy to model in their show for your next real-life coffee break.
ANIME: Your Name
Starting with the CEO of anime food himself (I cannot be the only one who rewatches Weathering With You almost exclusively for the dining scenes), Makoto Shinkai models many of his movies in Tokyo. This is good news for our fellow Tokyoites since it increases our repertoire of places to show off to our friends. Across the cinematography of this Tokyo-fanatic, the top hit is indisputably Your Name. I am starting to ponder whether this movie is sponsored by Japan’s tourism bureau as it is essentially a hefty advertisement of Tokyo — which also happens to have an award-winning plot. Within the panoramic montage of Tokyo from dusk to dawn, there is one scene that I repeatedly watch: Taki’s date at the National Art Center. Bashful conversation is made between Taki and his older date at Salon de Thé Rond, the museum’s open-roof café. Even if you are not a hardcore Your Name fan, this premium date spot is bound to put you at ease with its mature, quiet atmosphere.
ANIME: Your Lie in April
Step 1: Mark a night on your calendar to cuddle up on your couch with a bag of chips and a box of tissues to cry your eyes out to Your Lie in April. Once you have completed Step 1, or if you have already been emotionally damaged by Your Lie in April before, move on to the next step. Step 2: Vist Le Primeur, a cozy café in Nerima to mend your broken heart with a plateful of their famous apple, nut and caramel waffles that the characters themselves wolf down in the anime. Trust me, you will feel your soul rehabilitate in the antique European-style interior. If you are lucky (or happen to have an overactive imagination like myself), you might even be able to hear Kousei’s rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on the piano.
3. Cafe Mai:lish (Akihabara)
Akihabara. Do I even have to explain myself for this one? Of course, I am talking about maid cafes in Tokyo’s otaku central! While all of these cafés on this list can be enjoyed by non-otakus as well, I strongly recommend watching Steins;Gate before visiting Mai:lish, as a major plotline takes place in this celebrated maid café. Let me reword this: If you watch Steins;Gate, you will feel an instinctive need to visit this café. For the full experience, settle down in the window seat to observe the Akihabara buzz and chat to the friendly maids while waiting for your omu-rice with a requested 世界がヤバい！！(“The World is Doomed!!”) ketchup message.
ANIME: Eden of the East
Next on our list is for our boujee readers, or if you are simply looking to treat yourself after a long week. This café bar right outside the United Cinemas of LaLaport Toyosu is the ultimate spot to take a breather (the place is literally called BREATHE) after an exciting film to chat about your favorite scenes over a cocktail. Not only that, the bar is featured as part of Akira’s hideout when he is plotting a defense against an upcoming terrorist attack in dystopian Tokyo (as featured in Eden of the East). And if you are really looking to treat yourself, or if you are a die-hard Eden of the East fan, you can pay an additional entry fee to gain access to the VIP room upstairs. Guess what, the VIP room is a close replica of Akira’s room in the anime! How cool is that?
ANIME: Tokyo Revengers
How can we end a list of Tokyo cafés without giving Harajuku a mention? This highly popularized anime of 2021, Tokyo Revengers, uses the greater Shibuya area as its main backdrop. There is an adorable scene at Eggs n’ Things Harajuku that takes place between the bloody fistfights, confusing time-lapses and the obnoxious balloon pants worn by middle schoolers who look 35. The scene at the open terrace café features Eggs n’ Things’ iconic menu: mini pancakes drowned in a tower of whipped cream. This is a whipped cream devotee’s dream come true! Come take a break at the Harajuku local’s favorite pancake shop while we wait patiently for the second season of Tokyo Revengers to come out.