Japan is well known for its themed cafes. Cat cafes have become common in recent years. Now there are even goat cafes and owl cafes you can visit in Japan. But the cafe I want to talk about today isn't animal themed. It's toy themed. Toy train themed, to be specific. Takara Tomy Plarail toy train themed to be super specific.
Toy trains may be niche hobby. And you a very specific brand of Japanese toy train is even more niche. But Takara Tomy Plarail has a very loyal following. There's a Plarail Expo that's been held in Tokyo for over ten years. There's Plarail clothing and school items. 72% of Japanese children own Plarail toys (that number is according to Takara Tomy itself, so take it with a grain of salt).
So it makes sense there would be a cafe. You don't sell toy trains for over 55 years and not get a themed cafe for your products. In fact you do. And I went to it.
"What separated Plarail from other toy trains?" you may ask. Good question. For one thing, Plarail is plastic, making it very kid friendly. No stabby metal pieces here. Also none of the pieces are compatible with other trains sets. So if you're a Plarail kid, you're PlaRail all the way. Get a tattoo. Plarail 4 Life. By the way, Plarail is pronounced as "play rail" in English, but in Japanese we say purareーru プラレール
Anyway, time to go inside the Plarail Cafe.
Once inside you'll notice this awesome train tower the cafe has built for your enjoyment. You're meant to watch the trains as you eat your snacks and drink your drinks. So please do so when you come here.
On the wall is a series of photos of various Plarail models. Apparently they recreated every station on the KEIHAN line in Plarail! That's pretty impressive. It would have been nice to actually see these stations rather than just photos. But that would require a bigger cafe, I think.
What would a Plarail Cafe be without Plarail items to buy? If you're a newbie, you can start your collection. If you're already big into Plarail, you can buy more pieces to fortify your massive collection. Just make sure to hide it from your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/mom/dad/anyone that cares about you because they'll be mad you bought more Plarail. You promised after you finished recreating the landscape from Snowpiercer you'd be done!
Once you've purchased unreasonable amounts of Plarail accessories, it's time to play! There's a play area in the back. There may only be children in this area, but that shouldn't stop you from plopping down and playing with your trains. Right? Right?!
But, don't forget to take off your shoes. The child that took of these shoes also took off his socks. But I don't think that's necessary. Or sanitary.
Hey look, he's got Anpanman socks!
Time to order some train-themed food. They had sushi and all kinds of various dishes. But you can get that anywhere. You can't come to the Plarail Cafe and not get the shinkansen shaped cake. There's three kinds to choose from!
After you order, you can use this laminated piece of paper to watch Plarail movies on your phone or tablet. Just use the QR codes to bring up the various YouTube videos. Or you can just look over at the giant Plarail tower right next to you. You are in the Plarail Cafe after all.
Yay! My shinkansen cake finally arrived at my table. To be honest, I expected an overly sweet, artificial tasting cake, but I was wrong. It had just the right sweetness, fluffiness, and a beautifully creamy presence throughout. I really liked it. Next time I'm gonna try the E5-Hayabusa and Dr. Yellow cakes.
It’s a great place for kids and adult who love trains. The cake was surprisingly delicious. While writing this blurb, my mouth started watering thinking of that cake… I want to eat it again.