Since moving to Tokyo I have developed a new favorite pastime: going to themed cafes. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been to nerdy cafes at this point. And out of all those visits, my visits to the Persona 5 cafe stand out among the rest.
The P5 cafe was hosted by Pasela Resorts in Shibuya (in case you didn’t know, Shibuya is where a good portion of the game takes place!) during November. It ended up being really popular, so here’s hoping they’ll do another run at some point!
Unless you can understand Japanese, chances are that you haven’t had a chance to play the wonderful game that is Persona 5 yet. It was released here in Japan on September 15th of last year and I’ve loved ever minute I’ve played of it thus far. For a sneak preview you can check out my stream of the first few minutes here. (I wasn’t able to show more because Atlus has the game under lock and key at the moment.) If you’re in the West, don’t fear – the wait is almost over (assuming it doesn’t get delayed again!). It’s currently set to release in English at the beginning of April.
Infiltrating the “Palace”
What stands out most about going to this cafe wasn’t actually the cafe itself, but rather the process of getting into the cafe. My friend and I are lucky we even managed to get in! You see, if you spend any amount of time in Japan – particularly in Tokyo – you will soon discover that Japan is so much more than the Land of the Rising Sun and All Things Kawaii; it’s also the Land of Really Long Queues! Now add in Persona’s popularity and the fact that my friend and I went on a national holiday and you get this:
Now I realize it may be hard to actually see the sheer amount of people in line in these pictures. That’s because, as you can see, they had us lined up in the staircase of a 6-story building. Can anyone say fire hazard? Once you got in line you were stuck – they snaked us around so that the entire staircase was blocked. In Japan I’d say that’d qualify as some serious kinjo meiwaku, which translates to “a neighborhood disturbance” but contains a negative subtext that runs far deeper than the literal translation.
I had no idea what I was even getting myself into. Supposedly people were only allowed to start lining up like thirty minutes before the cafe opened? I showed up about an hour beforehand, thinking I would outsmart the crowd, and it was already like this. So yeah. I won’t be underestimating the power of the Japanese queue ever again.
At least I got to get a lot of StreetPasses on my 3DS!
What really sucks is that they ended up using a lottery system to determine if you would even get in – you would draw a card from a box and it would tell you your designated time slot, if any. The poor people in front of me didn’t even get in the cafe! They were waiting in line longer than me and they didn’t even get in… seems a bit unfair, if you ask me. And seeing them pull a dud ticket after putting our lives on the line (cause if there was a fire, pretty sure we’d all be, you know, dead?) to get into the cafe was just a tad bit heart-attack-inducing! Luckily for me, luck was on my side that day…
Not only did I get a ticket, but I got an ideal time slot: 4:30-6pm. Score! I fangirled quite a bit over the ticket itself, too. With that super cool “Take Your Heart” insignia in the corner, I felt like it was an invitation to a secret society of vigilantes or something. …I didn’t want to give it back.
Inside the Cafe
Unfortunately this cafe was only temporary; Pasela Resorts, the nice karaoke chain that hosted it, normally has a Western American-themed bar in the same location. While waiting to be seated, this is what I saw:
Once inside, they had the place fully decked out in pure Persona 5 awesome though!
Overall, I thought the menu was fantastic. I ended up going to the cafe twice during its run and was therefore able to sample a good amount of the things. Not only did the themed items really fit the characters, they were delicious too!
During my first visit, I ended up getting Ryuji’s drink and Yusuke’s dessert. Both were amazing. Ryuji’s drink ended up being my favorite of all the drinks I tried (I tried all except Haru’s, Morgana’s and Yusuke’s).
My friend got Futaba’s drink. It had one of those awesome color-changing ice cubes in it!
On trip number two, I ended up getting the Leblanc curry, Makoto’s drink, and Anne’s drink. During the first visit, I decided I definitely needed to get the curry and Makoto’s drink (which is coffee) for the ultimate nerdiness factor! Why, you may ask? Because in the game, the protagonist lives at a restaurant called Leblanc that’s known for serving coffee with its curry. As strange as that combo sounds, it was actually really really good!
For round two my friend got Haru’s dessert. A bit over-priced considering what you get (this cost around $8-9) but she claims it was really good!
As is the case with basically every nerdy cafe in Tokyo, for every food or drink item you ordered, you got a themed souvenir to go with it. At this cafe it was buttons. And it didn’t matter whose food or drink you ordered, the button they would give you was completely random. Luck was on my side though – the only duplicate I got was the protagonist and my friend wanted him so she traded me Anne in exchange!
Here’s what I ended up with between the two visits:
On a side note, I was in a store that sells “nerdchandise” in Ikebukuro recently and I saw the protagonist button going for like $25-30 – for a button! If had know I probably would’ve just sold the button instead! Good to know I can make some extra cash if I ever feel like selling the buttons currently in my possession, however.
The Persona 20th Anniversary Cafes
I also went to some different Persona cafes last month. During December they were running a special in celebration of the series’ 20th anniversary. The three Pasela places in Akihabara were all decked out with stuff from every Persona game. There was another Persona 5 cafe, a Persona 1 & 4 one and a Persona 2 & 3 one. They had a point card with the school emblems from each game and you could get a limited edition 20th anniversary poster if you succeeded in going to all three cafes.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to all of them as I only found out this was a thing on the last day they were doing it! I managed to go to the P2/P3 cafe and the P5 one though – pretty miraculous considering it was yet again a bitch getting in! There was a lot more waiting in seemingly endless lines (I am now a pro at this)… luckily there were no sketchy stairwells though!
Here’s some pics I took at the P2/P3 cafe:
The Akiba P5 cafe was a bit classier than the Shibuya one – the selection was limited in comparison though.
My time at all three Persona cafes was more than worth the trouble it took to get in! The food and drinks were tasty and reasonably priced (for a themed cafe in Tokyo, that is!) and I think they were good representations of the characters. I would definitely go back if they were to have it again and I’d recommend that any Persona fan do the same. I’m hoping that Pasela realized how popular this series is after dealing with all the crazy hordes of people going to their cafes for the past two months. In order to make life easier for everyone, I’m hoping they’ll just make a permanent Persona cafe at some point. Some point soon. Or else. …Please?