You’d like a teenage girl to serve you tea while dressed in a cutesy maid outfit? You got it. You want to dine on a gurney in an Alcatraz ER-themed restaurant or eat burgers surrounded by life-size anime characters? No problem. Just get yourself to Tokyo, the city seemingly teaming with 24-hour cartoon craziness and the embodiment of "wacky Japan."
But away from these Japanese stereotypes, there is a growing scene of altogether more grown-up concept cafés fusing areas to eat and drink with spaces for business meetings and relaxation.
Called “third spaces” (home and office are the other two), these hybrid cafés are aiming to sate the need of a busy, trend-hungry population with a one-stop shop for work and play.
The newest and most eye-catching of these is in a hip neighborhood close to the shopping and nightlife mecca of Shibuya. Called the Daikanyama T-Site, it has three interlinked, two-story buildings that mix up a Starbucks, a convenience store, a book and record shop and chic café into something the architects hope is one seamless experience. Visitors can wander through the aisles of books and vintage records (the catalogue is searchable through iPads) with a coffee in hand before taking a seat in the lounge-cum-restaurant to read or chat.
With a decidedly up-market, relaxed vibe, it has been a hit since it opened, attracting a clientele ranging from young families to creatives having brainstorming meetings. There’s also been a focus on making it attractive to an older generation with the record and bookstore employing older experts with specific knowledge of genres to advice customers.
Japan’s great acceptance for new concepts and trends is one reason for the success of Daikanyama and other “third spaces,” believes Darrell Nelson, a Tokyo-based trend consultant with CScout Japan. But another is the need for a generation that grew up with 24-hour manga and internet cafés to find places to do business.
“They are looking for somewhere more suitable to be able to do business on the move, particularly those in the creative or freelance sectors,” he suggests.
“The way that business is done online today also means that no longer do people have to be tied to an office, which in Tokyo can be prohibitively expensive.”
Aside from adventures in the third dimension, new concept places to eat and drink are emerging all the time in Tokyo, often from unlikely sources. From a company that makes weighing scales and other medical equipment comes a restaurant that is part health food store, part doctor’s clinic.
At Tanita Shokudo customers first visit the glass-walled consultation room next to the food counter and fill out a nutrition questionnaire. A diet from the restaurant is then prescribed along with advice like how long food should be chewed to get the maximum nutrition. Table-top scales also ensure the correct amount of food is eaten.
It might sound nuts to some, but it’s expected to be a hit.
“Japan does well with these concepts because people are open to, and expect, new things, but also because Japan just really loves food and the rituals that surround it,” says Michael Keferl, CEO of CScout Japan.
See all our Japan Eats coverage and get more on CNNGo
In La Canyada spelling ? years ago there was a tai restaurant called The Poo Ping Palace no kidding...
Gotta love those wacky Japanese.
Japanese culture is so unique, exquisite and detailed I think. I love them.
Japanese are innovative, interesting, and unpredictable. Gotta love 'em.
Japanese are innovating and interesting people.
The first sentence of this article just shows what is wrong with Japan...I once knew a cop from Wakiki who used to patrol the ladies of the night – who were mostly Caucasion – and he said they only solicited Japanese business men because they were the best customers. My friends...Japanese culture is very wack...and if you don't believe it read the first paragraph of this article again. Count me out on this one.
Some people, like me, enjoy this "wack" culture. It's actually pretty great and cosplay cafes are like Hooters Japan style; except you won't know what's going on if you don't like manga or anime.
The, um, correct word for that usage gets the rest of us moderated. Hopefully that's why "come" was used instead.
Oh...got it. Thanks. Perhaps the writer should have used "lounge/restaurant" instead?
Yes, but it's *wrong*. It's not a question of finding a more acceptable word - the word used just wasn't the right word and doesn't mean the same thing.
In any event, the writer also gets "advice" and "advise" mixed up, so I suspect this wasn't a deliberate substitution but an actual error.
It's not wrong; it's Latin. The word means "with."
Id never eat at a come restaurant but Id make a great chef
Cringe! I'll add that one to my collection of news-worthy typos. Is this site posting a job for a proof reader?
Daikanyama sounds like it would be a huge hit just about anywhere with a fairly well-educated population with a little disposable income. Can we have one in my city soon?
Sounds more like our local Borders – before they went out of business
Closing of Borders was the most tragic tales to date. I loved that store more than anything. It wasn't uppity B&N and tragically hispter Starbucks. It was contemporary well balanced Borders. Not since MediaPlay's closing have I been so upset.
I bought a wig once that came with a fall, Dahling.
A teenage Japanese girl serving me tea in a skimpy maid outfit actually sounds really great.
What is the cafe in the photo?
Looks as exciting as wet cardboard.
Sometimes the point is NOT excitement, but instead is relaxation, mellowing out, or just having a place to gather. Consider the size of the Japanese home (tiny) in comparison to the U.S. behemoth, and you might get the idea.
The "Fukushima Fez".
At the angle the photo was taken, it looks like that lady is wearing a glowing hat.
Haha! Good observation. Glowing lamp shade like hats. I think you are on to something there.
She had a bright idea.
Priceless! Thanks for the great laugh!
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 8,092 other followers