Children all over the world know Eric Carle and his works, but it seems like his books and characters have made a significant impact in Japan.
Cementing Eric Carle’s status as (perhaps) Japan’s most celebrated children’s author is The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cafe.
This whimsical cafe is in Ginza, Tokyo and is based on his beloved book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The cafe is called Hara Peko Ao Mushi Cafe (Hara Peko for short), based on the Japanese title はらぺこあおむし/Hara Peko Aomushi.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cafe comes nearly a year after the author’s April 2017 visit to the opening of the exhibition, The Art of Eric Carle”at the Setagaya Art Museum.
My Love For Eric Carle
As a kindergarten teacher, Eric Carle books are a staple in my classroom. My students immediately recognize his works.
Books like Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See include bold, eye catching illustrations and repetitive storytelling that is perfect for young native speakers and and EFL learners.
I legit can turn The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See in a 20-30 minute lesson, that’s how flexible the source material is.
(Fun fact – whenever I do a demo lesson/interview for a teaching job, The Very Busy Spider is always included in my sample lesson.)
As a mother, I enjoy storytime with my little monster. Unfortunately, 95% of my Eric Carle book collection are not boardbooks.
Most of the time we end up reading The Very Busy Spider (a large board book). I’ll have to invest in some board books….
And as a total foodie slightly obsessed with limited edition (期間限定/kikan gentei) items and promotions, visiting this cafe was a must.
Here We Go (Access Tips)
I made the journey to central Tokyo with little Kaiju, her stroller, and baby carrier in tow.
The cafe is located in the newly renovated Marronnier Gate Ginza 1 building, on the 4th floor.
For those heading to the cafe with children, I suggest avoiding the Tokyo Metro/Toei subway lines. The nearest exit listed on the website (Ginza/銀座 c8 and Ginza Itchome/銀座一丁目 Exit 4/4番出口) do not have elevator access!
It’s much, much better to take the Yamanote Line (山手線) or Keihin Tohoku Line (京浜東北線) and get off at Yurakucho (有楽町). You can reach Marronnier Gate Ginza 1 via the Central Exit (中央口).
As soon as you exit the elevator, you’re face to face with a display of colorful cakes.
The cafe itself is small. If you’re using a stroller, you’ll have to fold it and leave it outside in the designated stroller area.
There is a shelf with books in front of the cake display case. You’re free to take any book to read or to use as props in photos, but they’re all in Japanese.
Inside the small corner gift shop are posters, bath and hand towels, plush caterpillar toys, books (Japanese only — boo!), ceramic mugs, socks for little feet and even bath bombs.
Each table has paper place mats featuring Eric Carle artwork, coasters, and plush caterpillars.
The left wall is tastefully decorated with the butterfly featured in the final pages of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Booths line the right partition that divides Sunday Brunch (the original cafe) with Zoff, the eyewear maker.
While you’re tempted to take photos of everything, the center wall functions as the keepsake photo area. The astro turf grass carpet is a very cute touch. Staff will help you in taking group photos if you need assistance.
Japan is home to charaben (キャラ弁) bento (lunch) painstakingly created in the shape of popular animated characters. So it’s no surprise that the dishes are faithful reproductions of the title character in The Very Hungry Caterpillar or edible artistic inspired dishes.
All of the dishes are fantastically photogenic, and are a great opportunity for insuta bae (インスタ映え). Insuta bae is the latest trend in which photos are taken just for the sake of posting on social media, (primarily instagram).
You can check out the menu online, but curiously, they don’t mention the Brunch Set. I ordered the brunch set, which came with the day’s pasta, a drink, and a slice of cake for 2,000 yen.
Our visit was a belated happy birthday event for the monster. The staff even put a candle on the cake and wrote a Happy Birthday message to her!
When eating out, I try to stick with lunch platters for around 1,000 yen. Still, the price is not too bad considering the area (Ginza).
I topped off my lunch with the matcha milk drink. On top is a spinach muffin, loads of cream, and a super cute heart cookie adorned with a caterpillar.
For kids, there are two dishes, and there’s even (FREE) menu options for babies. I ordered the broccoli risotto for the monster, but she didn’t eat it. It sure smelled good, though.
Ready to Go?
Navigating Tokyo can be a challenge, especially if you have kids in tow. However, this cafe is certainly worth a visit if you’re in Tokyo between now and August 31!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cafe will be open every day until August 31, from 11:00 am to 9 pm.
You’ll need a reservation if you plan to visit between 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. Use my post How To Make A Reservation For The Hungry Caterpillar Cafe to navigate the Japanese website.
A Look Inside The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cafe in Tokyo
Check out one of my favorite kid friendly destinations in Tokyo – Ikspiari Mall