The Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku is already a chaotic mix of color, costumes and cocktails—so throw in some added burlesque attitude and you’ve got yourself a perfectly bizarre Tokyo night out.

The metropolis may have superclubs, robot restaurants and endless alleyways of izakaya to explore, but if you want a truly bizarre combination of all three, then the Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku is the place for you.

During the day, the bright and colorful surroundings are like an acid-infused kids’ birthday party, with floating animal heads, mushroom groves and the hypnotic spinning centerpiece that is the Sweets-Go-Round. At night, however, things get a little bit darker, and a little bit more adult …

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While there are regular nights with performances and plenty of unusual alcoholic drinks served beneath the arms of the jellyfish bar, for four nights a week the place gets a clubland makeover, with bonus themes.

Without the addition of actual drugs, you might be wondering how they can amplify an already intensely bizarre experience, but throw in a pole, a beetlejuice host and a lot of risque costumes and you’ll soon be converted (and if not, the shots will definitely help). To be fair, our experience was based on the burlesque night, so we can’t guarantee the pole dancing is continued into the other evenings (but we suspect it probably is, at least a bit, although maybe not with the Disney theme?) so fingers crossed on that one.

Night shows at the Kawaii Monster Cafe: Tickets, reservations and recommendations

It’s advised to reserve for the special evenings just in case there’s a large booking, plus it means you can waltz in rather than faffing at the front desk. There are two packages available—entry with one drink which is ¥2,000 per person, or a set course with unlimited drinks for ¥4,500. We reckon if you’re in for a penny you’re in for a pound, and since the course features four dishes including rainbow spaghetti and blue burgers, it’s a pretty fun way to combine dinner, drinks and all-out ridiculousness.

You can arrive at the Kawaii Monster Cafe without reservations, but the food course is only available if booked ahead, so be sure to eat beforehand if that’s your plan. A vegetarian option is available if booked in advance and is basically the regular course with meat removed—think avocado burgers and tomato pasta.

What to watch, and when: From burlesque to geisha

Offering a combination of Japanese and Western themes, the night shows at the Kawaii Monster Cafe in Tokyo are a mix of the city’s contemporary subcultures and traditional past. The Burlesque and Underland Nights are not family-friendly and you must be over 20 to attend. The Oiran and Pop Culture nights are less risque however, and regular nights (Friday – Monday) are also ok for younger audiences.

Tuesdays: Kawaii Oiran Night

Offering a throwback to the days of Japan’s courtesan culture, the Oiran Night is the mix of old and new that the Tokyo government won’t be putting on their posters any time soon. Get shots from geisha, watch as fox-masked performers entertain, and enjoy some leather-clad ninja action—because how could you not?

Wednesdays: Tokyo Pop Culture Night

Probably the most kawaii of the nights, this one has J-pop, candy colors and some very excessive Harajuku fashion outfits. The Monster girls (and boys) perform robot dances, band-style group efforts and some … well just plain bizarre routines, but that’s exactly what you’re there for, so who’s to complain?

Thursdays: Burlesque Night (20+)

With far fewer clothes and A LOT of pole dancing, the Burlesque Night is the most risque night by far, but also one of the most entertaining. You can expect some cutesy-Japan style outfits, some not-so-cutesy leather-harness ones, and a confusing (but weirdly moving) Disney-themed pole routine, but hey, who said Disney is just for kids?

Fridays: Tokyo Underland (20+)

Featuring drag queens, more pole dancing and a lot more techno, this night is like the seedy underbelly of Tokyo, in dance form. The second over-20s-only night, you can expect a lot of provocative dance moves and excessive costumes with very little actual costume—but that’s all part of the fun!

The regular Kawaii Monster Cafe experience

We have a full run-down on what to expect at the Kawaii Monster Cafe on a regular day or night (well, as regular as it gets), from the membership card system to the full concept and the mystery of Mr Choppy. Here are some of the basics to get your started:

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  • The restaurant is open during the day as well as the evening, so you can head in for lunch if you’re after a less intense affair.
  • There is a seating-type charge of ¥500, but this grants you a “Fall in the Stomach Monster Card” in the dashing shade of Pearl Pink, which is your first step on the ladder of Monster membership.
  • The restaurant is fully licensed and has a range of unusual themed cocktails on offer, as well as mocktails, soft drinks and regular mixed drinks.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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