“Nowadays, kawaii is used as description of general positive features of humans, animals, objects and phenomena. It helps to describe people and things that are not only pretty, attractive, nice, sweet and graceful, but also innocent, weak, helpless, tiny, even a little bit pathetic. In simple terms, it mainly refers to what is cute in a childish, immature manner, therefore arousing admiration. It may be a clumsy kitten, which has just fallen from the couch, a stuffed animal attached to a purse, a soft, big-eyed mascot without lips, a pink toaster, a furry photo frame or a ribbon attached to one’s hair. Also included in the term are things naturally tiny or the miniatures of what in nature is large and dangerous, e.g. smaller versions of wild animals such as elephants, hippos, bears. Soft and fluffy creatures like kittens, puppies, pandas, koala bears, bunnies, small seals are absolutely adorable for the Japanese.
The world of design is ruled by the same aesthetic. Kanako Shiokawa puts it aptly: “Kawaii lies in stylistic simplification, especially in terms of roundness”. Adding daintiness, picturesqueness and childish connotations to that definition, we get a basic tutorial on how to turn something into the quintessence of cute. By analogy, round-shaped objects with soft edges, devoid of spikes and sharp elements, rule all fields of industry, where kawaii has become a main factor in attracting customers.”
–a short fragment from my graduation thesis titled “The aesthetics of kawaii and its influence on everyday life in Japan”
An adorable, lovable, sweet as sugar, soft and big-eyed stuffed bear? Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the quintessence of kawaii – Rilakkuma!
Japan is the Kingdom of the Cute, no doubts about it. There’s Sanrio Puroland here – a Hello Kitty theme park, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu the Kawaii Princess, extremely popular mascots like Kumamon and Funnasyi. This summer Tower Records Cafe collaborated with San-X and the outcome was this lovely cafe that I’m about to show you!
Tower Records Shibuya, Rilakkuma Cafe
1-22-14 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
5 minute walk from Shibuya station (JR Yamanote, Tokyo Metro Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin Lines)
Limited opening time — 2014/7/10 to 8/17!
The cafe is on the second floor of Tower Records in Shibuya and there’s actually a bookstore there. And since the presence of books is somewhat calming, the cafe also had this rilakksing atmosphere going on! (pun so intended it hurts)
So much chubby cuteness ♥
As you can see there were quite a few customers there! There’s a time limit though (one hour or one and a half hour?) so you can be sure there will be a table for you too.
If you’re a fan of Rilakkuma you’ll know that there are countless series and special editions like “Space Rilakkuma”, “Picnic with Rilakkuma”, “Bathing Rilakkuma”, “Sleeping Rilakkuma”, “Baseball Rilakkuma”, “Sailor Rilakkuma”, “Strawberry Cake Rilakkuma”…As I am writing this I am sitting on a “Nap on a cloud Rilakkuma” pillow. I thought that Tower Record could use it and decorate the cafe with different Rilakkumas, but maybe they wanted to keep it simple?
As you can see the choice is rather limited, but the cafe is there for a short time only, so let’s be understanding. We have some übercute curry with Rilakkuma sleeping on a scrambled eggs pillow and two dessert sets: Rilakkuma caramel mousse and Rilakkuma apricot baked cheesecake. As for drinks, you can get super adorable Irish milk coffee (aka sweet milk). All that goodness at rather steep prices but you only live once, yo.
Not only was it cute but it tasted really lovely!
If you can handle some more of that kawaiiness, be sure to check out Rilakkuma Cafe’s souvenir store!
Of all things cute Japan is drowning in, Rilakkuma has to be my favourite. If you feel the same way about the plumpy brown bear, check out the cafe the next time you find yourself in Shibuya. Trust me, that Rilakkuma curry will make an awesome Instagram post 😀
Thank you for reading!♥