Sailor Moon, the iconic Japanese manga and anime about a group of teenaged girls with celestial powers who vanquish otherworldly baddies, has enjoyed a revival recently thanks to celebrating its 25th Anniversary and the emergence of a new animated version. The children who enjoyed the anime in the 90s are now in adulthood, and with that has emerged a whole market fuelled by childhood nostalgia. Indeed, the first permanent store selling Sailor Moon goods opened up in Tokyo just last month.
As a fan of the anime from childhood I jumped at the chance to go to a limited time only Sailor Moon themed café. The Sailor Moon Café popped up last year in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo but it seems to have scaled up this year appearing in several locations including Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka. As an indication of the café’s popularity, an online reservation system is in place costing 702 ¥ (with tax) and entry is timed at ninety minutes.
This year I had the opportunity to visit the café in Nagoya. Nagoya, which is actually Japan’s third largest city, is often overlooked as just a half way point between Tokyo and Osaka, but the city is highly modern and has an excellent café culture which makes it a perfect location for its own version of the café.
The Nagoya Sailor Moon Café was located in Amelie Café in the trendy, modern area of Sakae. The café was a short walk from Yabacho station on the subway. Turning onto the street where the cafe was, I was greeted with a sign showing the sailor scouts in maid dress, or butler in the case of the more androgynous Sailor Uranus.
I had booked the earliest seating at 11am and had ninety minutes to spend once inside. Despite being a weekday and the first seating of the day, the line was already quite long outside the café. While waiting we were given adorable menus to look at, and staff took our orders. For those of you imagining waitresses and waiters dressed as sailor scouts and tuxedo masks – I hate to tell you that I was served by efficient staff wearing all black – that kind of thing is saved for the maid cafes of Akihabara.
Once finally given entry to the café, I was directed through the small gift shop – which I would visit later – and shown to my seat. The cafe was small but cosy, with the two main rooms connected by the kitchen, and wood furnishings. What was an otherwise normal café was transformed through the Sailor Moon themed décor.
In the room nearest to the entrance, group and individual framed pictures of the sailor scouts in maid costumes lined the walls. The next room which I dined in had velvety interiors, cardboard cut outs of Usagi (Serena) and Chibi, and walls lined with Sailor Moon café art featuring the sailor scouts, their signs, and objects from the show such as the moon crescent wand.
On my table I found a free A3 poster and paper placemat, which I promptly rolled up and kept safe to take home. The atmosphere of the café was immediately inviting and got me excited at what was to come. Popular music from the TV show such as the show’s Japanese theme and various songs by the Three Lights, the civilian pop group formed by the Sailor Starlights, was played on loop through the café.
The café had an equal mix of group and solo diners, most of which were women in their twenties to forties, but it was nice to see the occasional male who came to enjoy the café, showing the broad appeal of the anime and manga.
The food was served very quickly. The menu had been divided into mains, desserts and drinks and having ordered them all together at the beginning I was unsure if they were going to be served together or separately. It seemed the former was the case, and after being served my first meal, my other orders swiftly followed. Overwhelmed by the cuteness of the food I probably spent far too long taking pictures of each dish.
Luna and Artemis Burgers
Looking around the room the Luna and Artemis burgers were a real crowd favourite, and it was no wonder due to their amusing appearance. The Luna Burger was served on a dark blue bun paying homage to the smart-talking kitty. The Artemis burger was white and filled with a meat patty. I particularly enjoyed the Luna burger containing lightly battered fish. However, as a word of warning, the dye on the burger was so strong it actually stained my fingers! The vinaigrette salad, crouton filled soup, and a cute crescent moon shaped slice of cheese was a nice addition.
Rainbow Holy Grail Parfait
After finishing off my Luna and Artemis burgers I turned my attention to my Sailor Moon Holy Grail dessert. The American style parfait was made with layers of cream, granola, nuts, and fruit and topped with fruit flavoured jelly. The granola added a nice crunch and balanced out the sweetness of the rainbow cream frosting on the sides.
Disappearing Luna P Cotton Candy Soda
At this point I had noticed that a majority of diners had escaped into the gift shop. I had the same intention but wanted to make sure I enjoyed all my food and drinks first. I ended my meal with what was perhaps the most dramatic drink on the menu – the Disappearing Luna P Cotton Candy Soda.
This was one of the many things on the menu which fit into the ‘too cute to drink/eat’ category but I had to just suck it up, literally. The drink was made up of a glass filled with a small amount of cordial, berries and a lemon slice, topped with a big ball of cotton candy made to resemble Sailor Chibi’s trusty Luna P companion.
The ears were cardboard cut outs and the face was a sticker which I could peel off. The drink came with seltzer water that I poured onto the top of Luna P’s head. What happened next was both cool and devastating, as I realised this poor kitty’s head was fizzling and disappearing. The drink itself was really refreshing and fruity, and the cotton candy was sweet and satisfying.
With all my food and drinks finished it was finally time to check out the gift shop. I must admit I did feel some pressure with the ninety-minute time limit, but I realised that I was making good time with forty minutes left on the clock. I looked around at the various knickknacks consisting of cardholders, phone stands, stickers, and melamine cups. I had fun perusing through the merchandise but my heart was set on something I saw on the take-away menu. As a useful keepsake of my trip to the café I purchased a cute Sailor Moon café design tumbler filled with fruit, basil and refreshing lemonade.
Returning to my table with some time to spare I noticed that the atmosphere had become much more social now that everyone had finished their food, with seeming strangers stopping to talk to one another about their favourite characters, and even swapping posters with one another as the A3 clear posters were given at random.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try all the menu items. I was curious about the black coloured tuxedo-mask themed curry with accompanying roses, but I was satisfied with simply being in an atmosphere dedicated to celebrating a franchise which was such a big part of my childhood, and which I continue to love to this day.
As these are limited time only pop-ups, cafés in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are now closed but if you find yourself in Fukuoka you still have a chance to visit the café until December 3rd. The Sailor Moon café seems to be growing from strength to strength, and if this year is any indication it should be back even bigger and better next year!
Check out my video below to see more highlights from the Sailor Moon Café 2017.