For all otaku, Tokyo represents the perfect place to start searching for anime, manga, and games related spots. After all, one of the most well-known otaku places in Japan is the famous Electric Town of Akihabara, which is a paradise for all those people who are interested in Japanese pop culture and its related merchandise. However, those not familiar with the Japanese metropolis doesn’t know that there are many other interesting otaku-dedicated places in Tokyo that would be worth visiting, and undoubtedly one of these is the major commercial and administrative center, Shinjuku.
Certainly, some gamers know that Shinjuku is the district where the famous Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company Square Enix is located. Square Enix has made thousands of people dream of role playing video game franchises such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts, which have sold millions of copies all over the world. However, the company might have thought that video games alone weren’t enough to satisfy its fans, so that is probably when the ARTNIA Café was conceived.
Opened on December 22th 2012, that is one month after the original Square Enix Store shutdown, ARTNIA is not just another coffee shop; mainly inspired by Final Fantasy saga and Dragon Quest, ARTNIA Café can be undoubtedly defined as another of Square Enix’s masterpieces which can make you live a real experience in your favorite games universe. Let us give you a tour between Chocobos, Cactuars, and cute Slimes!
Shinjuku ARTNIA Café Info
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The first thing you will notice about ARTNIA is the irregular shape of its building. Indeed, according to official sources, the coffee shop was modelled after Slime monsters from the Dragon Quest series, so ARTNIA looks like a mix between a giant drop and a white egg placed in the heart of one of Tokyo’s largest business quarters. Thus, ARTNIA was conceived to be special since its conception and, in fact, the name of the shop is a merger between the words “art”, “area”, and “near” read with a Japanese pronunciation. As it can be read on the shop’s official website, ARTNIA was meant to be a place where people could enjoy the wonders of fantasy art while tasting some delicious food and drinking a good cup of coffee, so it was intended to represent a bridge between Square Enix’s products and customers. It looks like Square Enix thought of everything, so you will have the feeling of having got knocked into an alternative universe ever since walking up the stairs to get in front of the main entrance.
When you first walk in, you will be standing in front of a large hall which is both the store and the restaurant. The two parts of the shop are officially called “Fancy Area” and “Café & Bar Area”. For a lover of Square Enix’s products, stepping inside the building could be a very exciting experience. Indeed, the shelfs of the Café are covered in dolls and all sorts of goods representing the most famous characters and monsters from Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest universe, while food and drinks on the menu are named after well-known items and creatures from Square Enix’s games. Of course, there are some tables inside where you can sit to enjoy your drinks and food. If you prefer, you can also sit by the counter, or outside when the weather is nice enough.
Actually, there is also a third part which is probably the most interesting of all, and it is called the “Luxury Area”. Basically, the Luxury Area is both a museum where action figures made by Square Enix are exposed and get periodically changed, and a jewelry store where items inspired on the most famous characters’ belongings can be purchased. However, the Luxury Area isn’t just a simple exhibition room. In fact, the inside of the area is based on the concept of the Materia Caves in Final Fantasy VII; in the middle of the room, there is a pedestal with a cavity containing Materia surrounded by a gentle water which flows… backwards! Then, the room’s walls decorated with mirrors will make you feel like being stuck in a magical parallel universe.
Soundtracks taken from Final Fantasy saga’s games play in the background to make your experience in ARTNIA’s world even more unforgettable, and – if you are very lucky – it could be possible for you to meet people working at the company, who sometimes like to enjoy a chocobo cappuccino during their lunch break!
Of course, one of the best parts of ARTNIA is the merchandise that can be purchased exclusively at the shop. Thus, some goods such as Final Fantasy’s characters badges, Kindgom Hearts’ keychains, or Materia-shaped chocolate set are limited edition or can be found at ARTNIA only. The list of gadgets ARTNIA sells is pretty long and includes Chocobos, Slimes, Moogles, and Cactuars dolls, posters, videogames, rare soundtracks, figures, T-shirts, rings, necklaces, sweets, and more. Prices are affordable for all and you could purchase a medium sized Moogle plush for the bargain cost of 2400 yen (around 20 dollars).
Food and drinks are also pretty cheap for a themed café, and they are worth every penny you will spend on them. The menu features nice meals good for a light lunch and includes common dishes such as Egg Benedicts or Salmon & Avocado Roll, and limited-edition dishes based on Square Enix’s games like Final Fantasy VII’s Meteor attack-shaped spaghetti, for example. Prices range from 800 to 1000 yen.
Desserts and drinks are also very interesting, with parfait on the top of all of them; they are made in three different flavors – choco-banana, strawberry, and Japanese green tea – and are respectively dedicated to three of the most popular characters from Final Fantasy VII, namely Cloud, Aerith, and Yuffie. How do you know that? Well, on the top of every parfait there is a distinguishing feature that is the Buster Sword for Cloud’s parfait, a red ribbon for Aerith’s, and the Point Shuriken for Yuffie’s, and each of them will cost you only 930 yen! Also pancakes are Final Fantasy-themed and features Moogles, the Shin-Ra Corporation’s symbol, or Cactuars according to the flavor you choose.
Drinks are divided into non-alcoholic and alcoholic. However, it is only possible to purchase the alcoholic drinks after 5pm. The most famous alcoholic cocktails are certainly Shiva (made with a mix of white rum, white curacao, lychee, and lemon juice) and Ifrit (made of white rum, white curacao, orange juice, and creme de cassis), while for the non-alcoholic drinks, you can choose between a Potion (mint, lemon, honey, soda), High Potion (mint, lime, honey, ginger ale), or classical drinks such as orange and grapefruit juice. Each drink will be served together with a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest-themed coaster chosen at random between a wide collection from which you absolutely can’t ask for a specific one!
Although being a little far from the JR station, ARTNIA Café is always crowded (especially during the weekend), so it is possible you would have to wait a long time before being able to take a sit. If you are going to visit the place, it is better to do it during the morning hours when there are probably fewer visitors. Unfortunately, ARTNIA doesn’t offer Wi-Fi service, but once you will be able to take a seat, you can stay as much time as you want.
Well, if there is a place that worth paying a visit to in Shinjuku, that is definitely ARTNIA Café. Especially if you are a fan of anything that Square Enix produced. The store often holds game related events as well. Details about anything which concerns the shop and the events can be found on ARTNIA’s official website, that is both in English and Japanese.
Many fans from all over the world visit the Café every year, and since it is located in an area where there are huge shopping malls, Japanese traditional restaurants, and a famous Japanese shrine, you could also enjoy a nice walk after a good Bahamut drink. So, next time you are in Tokyo, don’t forget to swing by ARTNIA Cafe!