Posts Tagged ‘cafe’

J-blip: Cornered by strong men and sweet pudding at ‘kabe-don’ cafe

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Ah, the classic kabe-don move.

Many young women daydream about having their school crush pull them aside and slam his arm against the wall to create an intimate scene. Kabe- (wall) don (the onomatopoeia for a loud thud) has become so established through numerous TV shows and manga series that the move itself has spawned a spin-off meme and its own Wikipedia page.

Girls tired of waiting for their own kabe-don moment can now take matters into their own hands. Morinaga Milk has concocted a promotional campaign that involves a suave man for the coffee shop Cafe Marriage in Harajuku posing for perfect photo kabe-don photo opportunity. Mind you, the said man is silicone based, but for those wanting a good laugh or curious to experience the magic of kabe-don, he’ll do.

Morinaga Milk installed the mannequin to help promote its new line of pudding treats so visitors can melt over (or is it melt under?) the handsome statue while tasting its melted treat.

Patrons can be wooed starting Oct. 11 at Cafe Marriage in Sweets Paradise on Takeshita-dori. Visit Morinaga Milk’s website for more information.

Inside Nazo Tomo Cafe

Friday, August 16th, 2013

The other day we brought up the nazo toki (puzzle solving) trend that appears to be building even further with the appearance of Nazo Tomo Cafe in Daikanyama, Shibuya-ku’s Theatre Cybird. Though I’ve played “Professor Layton” and used to get a kick out of logic exercises as a kid, I can’t say I am “good” at puzzle solving, so it took some guts for me to walk into the quirky pop-up cafe.

I thought I would warm up with a “cup dessert,” a perilously sweet parfait-like affair with heart-shaped cake, generous amounts of whipped cream, marshmallows, cornflakes, etc., but my true warm-up was the puzzle that came with it.

nazo

Strawberry sauce cup dessert ¥500

The event is put on in collaboration with a romance sim mobile game for girls by Cybird (under the same company group that runs the theatre space) called “Ikemen Oukyū Mayonaka no Shinderera” (something like “Hottie Royal Palace: Midnight Cinderella” in English). In the cafe puzzle, you’re a princess 30 minutes before a ball and you’ve received a letter announcing a crime will occur. However, the message is in code, so you need to get hints from the game’s handsome young men to discover what the criminal is after.

coaster

Coaster prize featuring Leo from “Hottie Royal Palace: Midnight Cinderella”

Now is perhaps a good time to note that you can’t expect to do any of this without good working knowledge of Japanese. The code itself is written in katakana, but you need to be able to read and understand the instructions, too. And don’t waste precious puzzling time looking for furigana. Of course, even though my Japanese was cutting it, the other parts of my mind were embarrassingly dull. Luckily the staff are friendly and will give you further hints until you feel almost as if you solved it yourself — definitely the reason for the 100 percent pass rate compared to the actual missions, of which when I went most did not reach 20 percent.

After picking up my prize coaster, I decided to pass on the rest of the side mission in order to get down to the real business at hand. I wanted to get inside one of those “mission cubes”!

The main draw of Nazo Tomo Cafe is not the cafe at all, but the puzzles awaiting inside each of the six mission cubes. Participation costs ¥1,000. Having never played a Real Escape Game or solved any similar real-life puzzles, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but more in the mood for science fiction than murder or romance, I picked mission six, “Taimu Mashin 765~Mirai wo Sukue~” (“Time Machine 765: Save the future!”).

[Mild spoilers ahead]

Led up some stairs to a short hallway-like room, I was told not to touch anything until after the countdown started. All the puzzles are designed to be solved within 765 seconds (a number too close to na-mu-ko in Japanese, i.e. producer Namco, to be a coincidence), but I knew at first glance it would be impossible for me alone. After a short video explaining (in Japanese with Japanese captions) how the world would end as the culmination of a series of unfortunate events beginning with some guy stubbing his toe, I was faced with a seven-step brain teaser with no hints in sight. How would I push the button to save the planet from certain doom? One of the steps involved playing the Japanese word game “Shiritori,” an example of how cultural fluency can matter as much as the linguistic kind.

[End mild spoilers]

Of course, once I had failed magnificently I thought of various ways I could have tried to proceed in a swifter, more orderly fashion, but so it goes. If nothing else, know that this is not a pencil-pushing game; you’ll be pacing your cube, manipulating objects and hopefully talking things through with your friends along the way.

That’s why it’s called “Puzzle Friend Cafe.” Even just two heads are better than one, so don’t be like me showing up alone. The staff will welcome you gladly (one of them confessed player numbers had decreased a bit since they opened on July 31), but you’ll have more fun, and more of a chance for success, with a pal or five (it seems up to six can play together). I paid once and received a free ticket to try another day, so maybe I’ll see if I can round up a posse for sometime next month; although the cafe closes briefly starting Aug. 25, round two runs Sept. 6-23.

Qusca: a good place to nap on the job

Friday, March 1st, 2013

 

A bed at Qusca "nap cafe." Photo by Rebecca Milner

A bed at Qusca “nap cafe.” Photo by Rebecca Milner

Qusca, Japan’s first “o-hirune cafe” – literally “nap cafe” – opened last December in Tokyo’s Akasaka neighborhood. The name speaks for itself: It’s a place to go for a quick rest. The area is a business district, and Qusca (which is for women only) is targeting businesswomen who work in the area.

In Japan, the word “cafe” has come to be synonymous with any sort of third space. Manga kissa (kissaten is the old Japanese word for coffee shop) are essentially places where people go to read manga (and, increasingly, to watch DVDs, play video games, sleep and even, if rumors are to be believed, have sex). Coffee is available, but incidental.

Qusca, too, has a coffee shop element: a space where customers can read magazines, charge their mobile phones, use the WiFi and have a cup of coffee, tea or juice. But its raison d’être is the nap room. Here, under dim lights, there are two single beds and four reclining chaises. Each is draped in netting – which sort of looks like a mosquito net – offering some privacy. There are lockers for valuables, a shelf of pillows and blankets, and a vanity table stocked with hair irons, hair spray, lotions and even cosmetics.

The vanity table at Qusca nap cafe. Photo by Rebecca Milner

The vanity table at Qusca nap cafe. Photo by Rebecca Milner

Japan is often portrayed as hyper-clean, almost sterile, but Qusca isn’t the only place where people can dip into shared cosmetics (there is sanitizer for the brushes). Cluxta, which is essentially a well-stocked powder room with an entrance fee in Ikebukuro station, has been running for several years now, and it also has a wide selection of shared makeup and hair-freshening supplies. Cluxta is a space for women in transition – a recognition that, for better or for worse, women wear many hats and would likely take advantage of a place to change those hats. Qusca seems to run on similar logic.

When I visited Qusca on a weekday around 5 p.m., I was the only customer. The receptionist told me that Qusca sees the most customers during the lunch hour, which makes sense: It’s the only sanctioned free time in a traditional office structure. However, with more research supporting spurts of productivity interspersed with periods of rest, encouraging employees to take advantage of such sleeping spaces might be a good idea.

In college, my friends and I used to fantasize about a place like Qusca. We’d drive from campus to the nearest city, about 45 minutes away, to go shopping or to a museum and then stay through the evening until the early morning, eating, drinking and dancing. But to have a space in the interim to rest, and to put on the sort of eye makeup that looks ridiculous in daylight, would have been ideal.

Qusca costs ¥150 for 10 minutes. This sounds awfully cheap until it isn’t, though the price includes all the coffee and juice you can drink. At 30 minutes it equals the price of something elaborate from Starbucks. At two hours, you’d get more value out of visiting a public sauna, which, in addition to having a resting area, also has hot baths and saunas. Still, the hour I spent at Qusca left me relaxed and refreshed and I would visit again. I’d love to see nap cafes go ubiquitous, like Starbucks. Because how many times have you bought a cup of coffee when all you really wanted was to get off your feet and use the bathroom?

Sure, you can catch some sleep on the subway – certainly many people do – but Qusca is betting, like Cluxta and Ippuku, the “smoking cafe,” that people would pay a little extra to sleep, put on makeup or have a cigarette in a more congenial setting, which puts an interesting spin on the concept of small luxuries.

Pop in to Tokyo’s latest pop-ups

Friday, December 10th, 2010

The “blink and you’ll miss it” pop-up trend is still booming and over this past year numerous establishments have opened up temporarily for business all over Tokyo. If you’d like a taste of pop-up culture, here are three new businesses that have just appeared. Just make sure you get there before the bubble bursts.

Going Merry One Piece Restaurant

Typical fare at Going Merry

Typical fare at Going Merry

The decor of this “One Piece” themed restaurant has been specially designed to resemble the interior of the pirate ship Going Merrry. On the menu of various pirate-themed dishes such as chicken leg branded with a skull and cross bones. Those who want to stock up on “One Piece” booty can purchase the limited edition merchandise on sale until the Dec. 15 in the same building on the second floor. “One Piece” is one of the hottest anime shows out right now, and people planning to visit are advised to ring ahead for a reservation.

The cafe opens Dec. 11 and closes its doors May 31, 2011. Ginza Meza Marche 11 F, Ginza 5-3-13, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Tel: 0120-299-034.

Mikey’s Cafe Nescafe

Fans of “Oh! Mikey” better rush down to Harajuku to enjoy a cup of coffee in the charming, but somewhat creepy, company of the Fuccon family. “Oh! Mikey” is a comedy TV show about an American family that have moved to Japan, in which, for some reason, all the characters are shop mannequins and speak fluent Japanese. The opening day of the cafe marked the 10th anniversary of the series and the occasion was also commemorated with the airing of a new episode and the release of the “Oh! Mikey Romance” DVD.

The cafe is open until Dec. 12. Jingumae 1-22-8, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Tel: (03) 6439 6555.

Coca Cola Eco Cafe @ RESPEKT

Fill out an eco questionaire with an iPad

This cafe’s rallying call is “Find Your Eco Style” and the space is designed to inspire young people to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It seats 110 customers and on display are t-shirts, hats and chairs all made out of recycled materials. There are 15 iPads available, which customers can use to fill out a questionnaire about their lifestyle habits. Once customers have filled out the quiz, it’ll suggest ways they can alter their habits to help save the environment. The menu features special cocktails made, of course, with Coca Cola.

The cafe is open until Dec.19  2F Shibuya-ku 1-11-1, Shibuya, Tokyo. Tel: 0120-308-509.

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