As one of the liveliest areas in all of Tokyo, Harajuku is everything you expect it to be and more. It’s a vibrant hub of youth and kawaii (cute) culture among the young and the young at heart. This colorful neighborhood is home to an unimaginable variety of cafes and stores including ones that cater to Japanese idol fans, tattoo parlors, fortune teller stalls, one-of-a-kind accessory shops that sell everything from sushi earrings to rings with dice on them.
The energy of Harajuku is felt the minute you pass the ticket gates at the station. There’s a level of excitement that hits you once you see throngs of people heading toward the main shopping area. Walking down the famous Takeshita Street alone has enough attractions (some of them free) that can keep you busy all afternoon.
Unfortunately, the Kawaii Monster Cafe has closed permanently but don’t let that take away from your experience. When one cafe closes, another one is definitely bound to open. With this Harajuku Cafe Hopping Guide, we hope that you’ll be able to explore all the different sides of what this ever-changing district has to offer.
Located on Harajuku Cat Street, Micasadeco Cafe is a pancake lover’s dream come true. Imagine sinking your teeth into the fluffiest pancake you can think of and then multiplying it by two. Micasadeco Cafe is the quintessential brunch spot for anyone looking to try fluffy Japanese pancakes with a side of other breakfast staples like omelettes and a mug of freshly brewed coffee. The interior of the cafe pays homage to traditional Japanese decor with a modern, pastel twist. As this cafe is popular, expect to line up on weekends and national holidays, so it’s best to get there right as it opens to avoid seriously long lines. A plate of their fluffy pancakes starts at ¥1,350 while their coffee menu prices range from ¥490 to ¥600.
Micasadeco & Cafe Jingumae
If you’re looking for a more personal, neighborhood coffee shop experience then head on over to Chop Coffee also along Harajuku Cat Street. The baristas are extra friendly and can speak English, which can come in handy if you want your drink customized. Drinks are priced between ¥400 to ¥600. They also offer acai bowls among other snacks. Be warned that seating might be limited so it’s more of a short pitstop than a place to lounge. If the weather permits, opt for their outdoor seating. They also have WiFi available but no charging outlets.
The Roastery by Nozy Coffee
Down the road from Chop Coffee and further along Cat Street is The Roastery by Nozy Coffee. Boasting an in-house roaster (as seen in the name), this cafe offers two types of beans each day and there’s even a display that has all the information you could need, including the aroma notes. Depending on which beans you choose, the price varies. If you’re still unsure, the baristas are more than welcome to walk you through it in more detail. Don’t forget to pair your coffee with any of their freshly baked goods especially the doughnuts (trust us on this). While it isn’t the cheapest cafe in this guide, it’s definitely more than just a stylish-looking Instagram spot. The inside is cozy and dimly lit so it may not be the best if you want to catch up on some reading but it’s spacious enough to accommodate a relatively mid-sized group of friends. There’s also some outdoor seating for some Cat Street people-watching.
The Roastery by Nozy Coffee
Just behind the iconic Laforet Harajuku Department Store is a small gallery and cafe called Sorama Coffee. With frequent temporary exhibits announced online as well as their cozy (but very limited) indoor seating, tourists and locals alike attest to this hole-in-the-wall establishment as a hidden gem in Harajuku. When choosing to dine in, they serve all their drinks in handcrafted cups from Kyoto (which you can also buy). All their baked treats are made in-house and their coffee starts from ¥500 although most would say that the star of the show is their matcha latte. We recommend you come here with a friend or alone as seating indoors is quite tight.
Dotcom Space Tokyo
Dotcom Space Tokyo is a tranquil oasis found a few minutes behind the ever-crowded Takeshita Street. As you make your way down towards the basement entrance you’ll see a minimalist-inspired interior, a small zen garden, as well as futuristic coffee apparatus on the cafe’s counter. There’s also a long white common table that runs through the middle of the cafe, not to mention ample seating. A plus is that most, if not all baristas in this cafe can speak English. If you’re looking for a spot to rest tired feet and recharge with some excellently brewed coffee this might just be the place for you.
Dotcom Space Tokyo
To wrap it up, even if some of the more popular attractions (like the Kawaii Monster Cafe) in this area have come and gone in the last few years, there’s always going to be a new attraction to come to take its place. Whether you want to explore the backstreets of Harajuku or stay on the main road there’s always going to be something to surprise you.