Frequently Asked Questions & Tips:
Pop-up cafes in Japan can be overwhelming to foreign visitors. Usually there's not a whole lot of English information about them and if you don't speak Japanese your visit might seem intimidating! We're here to help you so we've compiled a list of questions you may have about visiting a cafe, about us, and tips on visiting. If you have a question please fill out the form at the bottom and we'll answer!
What exactly are pop-up cafés / collaboration cafés?
Collaboration Café (コラボレーションカフェ)
Pop-up cafés (also known as collaboration Cafés) are limited time cafés collaboration work typically based around a pop culture reference, artist, TV show, or celebrity. They are popular in Japan and gaining popularity around the world. Some cafés even start off as a limited time pop-up cafe but then end up being a permanent cafe & restaurant due to the popularity. Most cafés usually offer themed drinks & food for the occasion as well as special merchandise only offered at the café! Some even have special events that go on for a hyper-limited time within the duration of the café such as meet & greets, autograph signings, photo opportunities, performances, & more!
Pop-up cafés are usually not a permanent café! They change subjects every few months so be sure to visit one when you can and pay close attention to their dates of operation!
Do I need to speak Japanese to visit a pop-up cafe?
No, you do not need to speak Japanese to visit. Usually staff try to be helpful with foreign customers however we can't speak for every employee in Japan. Here's some tips to visiting if you don't speak Japanese:
- Familiarize yourself... with the menu online beforehand (pictures & Japanese name). Some cafes use a 'write-in' order system as opposed to printed menu with pictures. This type of menu is usually a piece of paper with all the menu items in list form and you put an (x) next to what you want to order. Sometimes picture references aren't included. The best way to prepare yourself is to take a picture or screenshot on your phone to the cafe with you. That way if you read for example: "ミッフィーがお花のゆめ見るカレー" on your phone next to the picture of what you want you can just look for the same item on the ordering paper and don't have to worry about ordering the wrong thing!
- Pay close attention... to if the cafe is reservation only or first come first served. Some cafes are widely popular and only do reservations. You will most likely not be seated at a popular cafe with a reservation system if you do not have one.
- Go with the flow!.. This tip really applies to Japan as a whole but when visiting a cafe just follow what everyone else is doing in terms of lining up, waiting, seating, ordering, paying, etc. Every cafe has a different system so we can't tell you how every cafe will be set up once inside but if you are doing something wrong a staff member will politely correct you and help. They understand you may be a bit confused so relax and don't be afraid to make a simple mistake! It's okay!
Do I need a reservation to visit a cafe?
It depends! Some cafes require them and some don't. Others use a more complicated lottery system in order for you to have a chance at placing a reservation. We usually try to mention which reservation system a particular cafe is using when writing our articles.
Looking for a guide on how to make a reservation with Shinjuku/Omotesando/Shibuya/Harajuku BOX CAFE & SPACE or a site that uses hubsynch? We wrote a detailed guide for you! Click Here.
How do lottery reservations work? Am I guarenteed a reservation?
These are a bit complicated. As a general overview since each cafe company may run things differently, lottery reservations are a CHANCE to make a reservation for a specific timeframe. Applying for the lottery does not guarantee that you will get a seat for the date/time you want. If you do get the chance to make your reservation after winning the lottery the reservation you make at that point is guaranteed however if you lost the lottery you'll have to try again for a later date. This may be difficult for travelers on a strict time schedule and requires a bit of pre-planning and flexibility. Example of a cafe using a lottery system.
Do I need a Japanese address to make my reservation?
Usually yes if you are required to make a special account under the cafes special reservation system. However if this is the case it is possible to just use your hotel, hostel, or AirBnB address in place of a home address. We have never been asked to verify our home address used for the account when checking-in with a cafe. Most often they just check that you have a reservation, the amount of guests & the time. In some cases they may check the name of the reservation but in our personal experience they've never checked the address.
Can Dango News make my reservation for me?
No, unfortunately we cannot make your reservation for you. If you comment on an article/review you are interested in we are happy to assist you with translations & tips on completing your reservation but we are not a reservation service and cannot be liable for your reservation and/or personal information. You will have to fill in your reservation form on your own or find a specialized reservation service in Japan who will do it for you. If you stay at a hotel with concierge, they may be able to make reservations for you. We apologize for not being able to offer this service to you.
when should we plan to put a pop-up cafe into our trip itinerary?
This one is a bit tricky. Pop-Up cafes tend to quite literally pop-up! Some give might give a months notice and need advance reservations depending on expected popularity while some only weeks or days notice before opening and no reservation needed. The duration of the cafes last anywhere from 2 weeks - 3 months. One 1-3 months is average in our experience. Very rarely do pop-up cafes last longer than 3 months however in super rare cases the dates can be extended or have additional locations open to increase the duration & accessibility if the cafe is popular.
-Our recommendation... is to start looking at our cafe calendar about a month before your trip and again about a week before your trip. Pop-up cafes are not really something you can plan far in advance for. Just be sure to check if you need a reservation or not before visiting. If a reservation is required, the sooner make one the better.
Some cafe's have a (LO __:__) next to their shop hours. What does this mean?
For some cafes and restaurants across Japan if you see a (LO) it means Last Order. Some shops will stop allowing food/drink orders to be placed about 45 minutes or so before shop close to ensure they close on time. If you do not order your food & reorders before their LO time then you will not be able to eat. Please try to avoid visiting a cafe shortly before closing to avoid this.
What are cafe novelty items or order benefits?
As part of a special campaign for visiting the café, some shops will offer something called a ‘novelty gift/item’ or ‘order benefit’. These are often free items in the form of luncheon mats, coasters, stickers, clear files, & more. You either get them by simply just dining at the establishment or ordering a certain item or off a certain menu. Some shops will also give you special items of higher value if you advance reserve online such as a keychain or other item. Terms on how to receive these ‘free’ items vary from shop to shop and are only given out as long as supplies last.
I tried visiting the cafés direct website but the link is different/wrong?! Help!
We always include sources for our information or we simply do not post the content. Some cafés recycle their links from collaboration to collaboration. First be sure the café your trying to visit hasn’t already ended. If the café you’re trying to look-up has ended, the shop may be using the same link used for café #1 for the newer café #2 so you may not be able to see all of the old information for café #1 anymore. If you find a link for a café that is still ongoing but is still the wrong link please use the form below to contact us so we can correct it!
why doesn’t dango news always translate menu items into english?
For liability reasons we do not always feel comfortable translating menu items/ingredients that are not officially given by the café themselves. Some menu names are more creative than descriptive as well. Due to things like allergies or dietary restrictions we do not wish to possibly give any misinformation when it comes to food items. We will usually translate special notes about a menu item if there is one. We also can translate a certain dish upon request just leave a comment on the article page with the dish you’d like to know the English translation of however we do recommend you do your own research about the dishes that interest you and if they meet your dietary needs if you have any.
Still have questions?
We would love to hear your comments, questions, and concerns. If you still have a question about visiting a cafe we are happy to answer it for you and maybe even add it to our FAQ! Use the form below to send us your questions if you have any.