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 book author is this whimsical cafe in Ginza, Tokyo based on his beloved book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The cafe is called the 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.
My Love For Eric Carle
As a kindergarten teacher,Eric Carle books are a staple in my classroom. 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 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 did a demo lesson/interview for a teaching job, The Very Busy Spider is always included in my sample lesson.)
As a mother, I enjoy doing storytime with my little monster. Unfortunately, 95% of my Eric Carle book collection are not boardbooks. So 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 in slightly obsessed with limited edition (期間限定/kikan gentei) items and promotions, visiting this cafe was a must.
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 (Japanse only — boo!), ceramic mugs, socks for little feet and even bath bombs.
Each table is decorated with paper placemats 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.
It’s tempting to take photos of everything, and the center wall functions as the keepsake photo area. The astroturf grass carpet is a very cute touch. Staff will help you in taking group photos if you need assistance.
Japan is home to kyaraben (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 inspired dishes.
If you’re a fan of the book, you’ll love the Kayoubi (Tuesday) plate. It’s inspired by the two pears the caterpillar ate on Tuesday. But, if you want a challenge, try the Hara Peco plate, inspired by the feast the caterpillar ate on Tuesday.
All of the dishes are fantastically photogenic, and are a great opportunity for insuta bae (インスタ映え), 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 — the pasta of the day, a drink, and a slice of cake for 2,000 yen. When eating out, I try to stick with lunch platters for around 1,000 yen, but the price is not too bad considering the area (Ginza).
I ended lunch with the matcha milk drink. It was topped with a spinach muffin, loads of whipped 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 wasn’t interested. She did, however, behave, and had so much fun playing with her “friend” in the mirror.
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 Hara Peco Cafe is a must!
Before You Go
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. There is a time limit of 80 minutes. Check out my related post on how to navigate the Japanese only reservation form.
Here We Go (Access Tips)
I made the journey to central Tokyo with little Kaiju, her stroller, and a baby carrier in tow. it’s 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 (Ginza/銀座 c8 and Ginza Itchome/銀座一丁目 Exit 4/4番出口) because the nearest exit listed on the website 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).
A Look Inside The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cafe in Tokyo