All the Cute You Can Stomach at Sanrio Cafe

Sanrio is celebrating Hello Kitty's 40th birthday with a pop-up cafe in Harajuku. She's older than anyone on the AmiAmi Blog staff but her looks haven't aged a day. The Sanrio brand has been around for so long it's practically an institution, so of course their characters are placed on a pedestal!  

Take a load off with Pompom Purin and his friend, Muffin. And be sure to take advantage of the photo op with your Sanrio favorites--or pose as some of their more, uhm, interesting characters like Kirimi-chan the smoked salmon or the parent of Gudetama the lazy raw egg.

One corner of the cafe is dedicated to Show by Rock, a Sanrio-designed rhythm game for mobile devices. It follows the goth-loli cat Cyan as she joins up with Chuchu the honor student rabbit, computer otaku Retoree the dog and Moa the space sheep to form the girls rock band Plasmagica and square off against the chuuni-visual kei unit SHINIGAMI CRIMSONZ on display here in their bishounen human form. It's free-to-play, so give it a shot. The worst that could happen is your fingerprints smudge up the screen.

All the tables were full, but the occupants were happy to share! Unfortunately you can't take any of the plushies home but you can play with them. It's like a cat cafe for stuffed animals.

Kiki and Lala knock it out of orbit with this banana mint and strawberry smoothie. Which is more embarrassing--ordering one by yourself, or sharing one with a friend? Trick question! The most embarrassing thing is not drinking it because you're concerned about what other people think. Nobody has the right to judge when they're in a cafe dedicated to children's characters. 

Random Japanese fact of the day: Sushi actually means vinegared rice, not raw fish. So a plate of chirashi-zushi (scattered sushi) can be anything you want, as long as it's over rice. In this case we got fried egg, chow mein noodles and green peas topped with a sheet of nori cut into Badtz Maru's mug. Despite his sour expression, the dish wasn't half bad.

Kaki-goori (shaved ice) is a nice way to cool down in the summer but it always leaves me wanting more. You're just munching on pureed ice cubes, after all. Sanrio answers the call by serving up shavings of frozen pudding! The sweet slivers melt on your tongue like a pudding-flavored snowflake. And once you hit the bottom of the cup, there's chunks of fresh mango to seal the deal. Make my vote for Pompom Purin!

Yup, the cafe is a cleverly disguised voting station for the 2014 Sanrio character rankings. 100 mascots go in but only one can come out on top. Look for the results on July 21st, and if you're in the area stop by and rock the vote! 

Event dates: June 28th-July 31st
Hours: 11:00-21:00
Address: 4-30-3 Meiji Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Official homepage: http://omohara.tokyu-plaza.com/newsevent/29488/